British Prime Minister Tony Blair has signaled that a U.N. ceasefire resolution on Lebanon could soon be agreed upon. The British leader spoke at his monthly news conference in London.
In his clearest indication to date, Tony Blair says he believes a U.N. cease-fire resolution can be agreed to in the next couple of days.
Speaking to reporters in London, the British leader says progress is being made and language acceptable to all is being refined.
"This is obviously a very critical time," he said. "I think it is, as I say, coming together now. I think the remaining differences are very slight over the resolution that can be put down. And what we need is to get a cease-fire happening once the resolution immediately on the agreement of the resolution and then with that suspension of hostilities, then get to the point where we can put in place the longer-term framework with the international force in support of the Lebanese government so that the underlying problems can be tackled and dealt with."
Mr. Blair has been widely criticized in Britain for not calling for an immediate cease-fire. He denied that his stance amounted to giving a green light to Israel's military offensive.
"It is not that I am indifferent to the suffering people in Lebanon. On the contrary, I stand in complete solidarity and sympathy with people in Lebanon, innocent people who have died in Israel as well in what is a terrible, terrible situation," he added. "But my job is to try to bring it to an end. And you do not bring it to an end unless you have got a plan to do so. Now I hope, as I say, I hope within the next few days we will get a United Nations resolution that gets the cease-fire we all want to see."
The prime minister urged both Iran and Syria to help resolve the crisis.
He also stressed that once a solution to Lebanon is put in place, then it is vitally important to quickly get the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians started again, and supported.
"Unless we can translate the words that we have used into action, this issue remains as a deep source of division," he explained. "But one other point I would like to make to you is, we cannot do this unless we have the support of the Arab world too. And that means people committing themselves in a very clear, obvious way to the two-state solution, but that does not just mean a viable Palestinian state, it also means a secure Israeli state."
Mr. Blair also denied press reports that his stand on Lebanon was at odds with views held in Britain's Foreign Office.
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