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France, US divided over Lebanon issue: Chirac

Chirac says French and US diplomats at the United Nations were split over how far to incorporate Beirut's demands in the new text.

india Updated: Aug 10, 2006 03:57 IST

French President Jacques Chirac warned on Wednesday it would be "immoral" to give up trying to secure an immediate truce in Lebanon, but admitted Paris and Washington were divided over the wording of a new UN ceasefire resolution.

Speaking after crisis talks with senior cabinet ministers in southeastern France, Chirac said French and US diplomats at the United Nations were split over how far to incorporate Beirut's demands in the new text.

"It seems indeed that there are American reservations towards adopting the proposal," Chirac said, before hinting that France may press ahead and submit a resolution with or without US support.

Warning that the conflict "threatens the stability of the entire region", Chirac insisted any final text should uphold Lebanon's "sovereignty, stability, unity and independence".

"If we fail to agree, we will have a Security Council debate at which each side will clearly reaffirm their position, including naturally France with its own resolution," he said.

His remarks came shortly before the French and US ambassadors to the United Nations headed into new talks in New York in a bid to overcome their divisions, according to a diplomat.

Lebanon and Arab leaders rejected a French-US draft UN resolution, mainly because it failed to guarantee a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon following a truce.

Also central to the UN talks is Beirut's offer to deploy 15,000 men in south Lebanon a stronghold of Hezbollah militias - which Chirac said was a key to restoring national sovereignty.