Lebanon's PM appeals for peace

None | ByAssociated Press, Rome
Jul 27, 2006 12:00 PM IST

Fuad Saniora pleads for an immediate end to the Israeli offensive which he says is bringing his country to knees.

Lebanon's prime minister pleaded for an immediate end to the Israeli offensive which he said was bringing his country to its knees and "cutting it to pieces" -- but he also made an unusual overture, urging Israel to seek a peace process with all its Arab neighbours.

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Fuad Saniora told a news conference on Wednesday that Israel could only hope to live in peace and security through good relations with all of its neighbours.

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One way to achieve that, he said, would be to renew discussions over a small, disputed territory between the two nations known as the Chebaa Farms.

The collection of 14 farms dotting the western slopes of Mount Hermon is little more than 10 square kilometres.

But it remains a key point of dispute that Hezbollah uses to justify continued rocket fire on northern Israel and other attacks against Israeli troops in the area.

Hezbollah militants cite Israel's control over the area in claiming that Israel continues to occupy a part of southern Lebanon.

Resolving that dispute, or at least placing the territory under UN control until final borders can be defined, could help ease the conflict, he said.

"We want to liberate what's left of the Lebanese territories of what's still occupied by Israel," Saniora said. "This will put the (peace) process on the right track."

Iurs, Egypt and Jordan, and the Lebanese leader's remarks seemed to indicate a willingness to steer his country toward some type of peace with the Jewish state.

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