CAIRO: Any United Nations resolution to end fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas should call for an immediate cease-fire on both sides and must be accepted by the Lebanese, Egypt s foreign minister said Wednesday.
The targeted resolution should be accepted by the Lebanese side, said Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, according to Egypt s Middle East News agency.
Aboul Gheit, who was speaking after a meeting with visiting Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, said Egypt s position was supported by all Arab countries.
Diplomatic efforts to reach quick agreement on a UN resolution to end the escalating Israeli-Hezbollah conflict faltered Wednesday over differences between the United States and France on Arab demands for the resolution to include a clause calling on Israel to withdraw from southern Lebanon.
Israel decided on Wednesday to send troops deeper into Lebanon in a major expansion of the ground war, a move that could further hamper efforts to end the month-long fighting.
Earlier Wednesday, Aboul Gheit blasted the Israeli cabinet s decision.
At a time when the world is appealing for an immediate cease fire and UN is seeing intense consultations to reach a Security Council resolution, Israel s decision pushes toward more escalation, he said in a written statement.
Tuomiaja, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, arrived in Cairo earlier Wednesday to consult officials in this key Arab country on the international efforts to defuse the crisis.
In Helsinki, Finnish President Tarja Halonen said Wednesday the EU is committed to help resolve the conflict.
The Lebanese government requests that the cessation of hostilities must be complete, including all Israeli military activity, and says all Israeli troops must leave south Lebanon, warning that their presence would be viewed as a new occupation.
Beirut also wants the UN resolution to include a commitment to release Lebanese and Israeli prisoners and an agreement to put the disputed Chebaa Farms area on the Lebanon-Syria-Israel border under UN jurisdiction.
Since the fighting began, at least 700 people have died on the Lebanese side. More than 100 Israelis have also been killed, including 36 civilians. AP