- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2006

1:28 p.m.

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) — President Bush today said he anticipates that Hezbollah and Israel will not agree with all aspects of a Mideast cease-fire resolution but said “we all recognize that the violence must stop.”

The president said the United States and its allies were pressing for a comprehensive solution that would restore Lebanon’s sovereignty and provide a lasting peace.

Mr. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke about the Mideast during a meeting with reporters at his Texas ranch. Miss Rice is expected to go to the United Nations for deliberations on twin resolutions for a cease-fire and the establishment of a peacekeeping force.

She called the resolutions “a reasonable basis that I think both sides can accept” once details are worked out. Mr. Bush said the goal was to find consensus quickly on a resolution calling for a cessation of violence.

“I understand that both parties aren’t going to agree with all aspects of the resolution,” the president said, “but the intent of the resolutions is to strengthen the Lebanese government so Israel has got a partner in peace.”

At the United Nations, the United States and France delayed action on the cease-fire measure to consider demands from Lebanon and Arab states over the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

The proposed changes include a call for Israeli forces to pull out of Lebanon once the fighting stops and hand over their positions to U.N. peacekeepers. A draft resolution by the United States and France would allow Israel to strike back if Hezbollah were to break a cease-fire. The draft made no mention of an Israeli withdrawal.

“I don’t believe anybody anticipates that there should be foreign forces on Lebanese soil as a result of what has happened here,” Miss Rice said.

Mr. Bush, on a 10-day vacation at his ranch, emphasized that the U.N. resolution must deal with Hezbollah, which he said was the root cause of the violence.

“Whatever happens in the United Nations, we must not create a vacuum in which Hezbollah and its sponsors can move more weapons,” he said.

“Sometimes the world likes to take the easy route in order to solve a problem,” Mr. Bush said. “Our view is it’s time to address root causes of problems. …

“The idea is to have the Lebanese government move into the south so that the government of Lebanon can protect its own territory and that there be an international force to provide the help necessary for the Lebanese government to secure its country.”

Miss Rice said there was wide agreement on that point.

“I think there is room on this issue to work on this issue because everybody has the same vision,” the secretary said. “That its the Lebanese army with support from an international force that can actually prevent that vacuum from appearing again in the south, so that we’re not right back here three or four or five months from now in the same situation.”

Mr. Bush blamed Syria and Iran for fomenting trouble by supporting Hezbollah.

“Syria and Iran sponsor and promote Hezbollah activities all aimed at creating chaos, all aimed at using terror to stop the advance of democracies,” the president said.

Mr. Bush said the United States has been in touch with Syria through lower-level diplomats, and “they know exactly what our position is. The problem is: their response hasn’t been very positive.”

As for Iran, Mr. Bush noted that the United States and other nations are pressing Tehran to stop uranium enrichment. He said if Iran agreed, the United States would participate in talks with Tehran.

On other points, Mr. Bush said:

• The United States is in the dark about what has sidelined Cuba’s Fidel Castro, causing him to turn over power to his brother, Raul. “Our desire is for the Cuban people to choose their own form of government,” Mr. Bush said, specifying that he was talking about Cubans who live on the island and not those who have fled.

• Iraq has made considerable progress on the political front, and the Iraqi people “decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box.” Last week, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, said the sectarian violence in Iraq could lead to a civil war.

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