July 25, 2006

Lebanon says will call for ceasefire in Rome talks

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora
said on Tuesday he would press for an immediate halt of Israeli
hostilities in Lebanon during a conference discussing the
crisis on Wednesday in Rome.

"We will go to Rome to explain Lebanon's position ...
before the representatives of the world in the face of the
barbaric attacks against the Lebanese people ... and to expose
the Israeli war crimes," Siniora said before heading to the
Italian capital.

"A ceasefire must be reached ... and there should be a
comprehensive solution that liberates all Lebanese land," he
said, referring to the border strip of Shebaa Farms that
Lebanon claims but the U.N. considers Israeli-occupied Syrian

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said the main objective
of the meeting would be to secure a ceasefire, as well as
getting humanitarian aid to civilian victims.

The talks called by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice have raised hopes in Lebanon and some other Arab countries
of an immediate ceasefire. But Washington is not seeking a
quick accord, saying it prefers to lay the groundwork for an
enduring deal.

Israel is not invited, like Syria, which is accused of
backing Hizbollah guerrillas whose capture of two Israeli
soldiers on July 12 sparked an Israeli onslaught in which more
than 400 people have died in Lebanon, as well as 41 Israelis.

The one-day conference gathers ministers and diplomats from
the United States, Britain, Italy, Spain, Germany, Canada,
Russia, Finland, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the European Union, the
World Bank, the United Nations.

Siniora heads Lebanon's delegation, which also include the
ministers of defense, foreign affairs, and communications.