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Lebanon truce possible this week: Rice

Rice also said she would call for the establishment of an international stabilisation force for south Lebanon.

india Updated: Jul 31, 2006 13:00 IST

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Monday she believed a ceasefire to end fighting between Israel and the Hezbollah guerrilla group in Lebanon could be forged this week.

"This morning, as I head back to Washington, I take with me an emerging consensus on what is necessary for both an urgent ceasefire and lasting settlement. I am convinced we can achieve both this week," she told reporters in Jerusalem.

Rice said she would call for a UN resolution this week on the ceasefire and also the establishment of an international stabilisation force for south Lebanon, which she said she hoped could be deployed as soon as possible after the UN resolution.

"There is broad agreement that armed groups must be prohibited in areas where the international force is deployed," she said, adding an arms embargo must be enforced.

Rice welcomed a 48-hour suspension from Israel of its aerial bombardment of south Lebanon following an air strike on a Lebanese village on Sunday that killed at least 54 people.

"I have been deeply grieved by the tragic losses we have witnessed, especially the deaths of children, Lebanese and Israelis.

Too many families have been displaced from their homes. Too many people urgently need medical care or are living in shelters," she said.

Israel also agreed to allow a 24-hour window for residents of southern Lebanon to leave the area if they wish.

Rice said she hoped this could be extended to improve the humanitarian situation and allow the delivery of aid.