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UN Secretary-General Expects Resolution on Lebanon Soon

The United States and France are continuing intense negotiations to agree on a joint resolution to present to the U.N. Security Council, aimed at a truce between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Secretary-General Kofi Annan still believes it is possible to adopt a resolution by the end of the week.

Diplomats from the United States and France are said to be close to resolving differences over a resolution to end the fighting. The main issue continues to be one of sequencing. Lebanon and France demand that Israel should start pulling its 10,000 troops out of southern Lebanon before Lebanon deploys its army to the area.

Israel, supported by the United States, insists that its troops stay in Lebanon, until an international force, most likely led by France, is deployed.

Ghanaian Ambassador Nana Effah Apentang, this month's Security Council president, says Council members do not know the status of the negotiations, and have asked for a briefing from the two co-sponsors.

"Nobody knows. I do not want to indulge in any unnecessary speculation. Right now, we all know that it is tough going. It is tough going in the negotiations. We know there may be one major sticking point, and I think that they are trying to resolve it," he said.

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric says the secretary-general has been on the telephone with officials of Israel and Lebanon and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, trying to push the process forward.

"The secretary-general is working very intensely with Security Council members and key leaders, both here in New York and in capitals, to push for a resolution concerning the situation along the Blue Line," Dujarric said. "He reiterates his call that the fighting must stop to save civilians on both sides from the nightmare they have endured for the past four weeks. The secretary-general believes that it ought to be possible for the Security Council to adopt a resolution by the end of the week."

Dujarric confirmed that Annan held an unscheduled meeting Thursday morning with U.S. Ambassador John Bolton.