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Russia Circulates New UN Draft Resolution over Lebanon
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Russia circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution on Thursday calling for a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire between Israel and Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

The draft calls for "an immediate and full cessation of hostilities for humanitarian purposes for a period of 72 hours."

It also expresses "gravest concern over the increasing escalation of hostilities in Lebanon and Israel" since the conflict broke out on July 12.

Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters that the conflict in the region has only got intensified, further worsening the humanitarian situation, while diplomatic efforts dragged on for days without achieving anything significant.

"Unfortunately we at this point came to the conclusion that we do not have an immediate prospect of this resolution being accepted," Churkin said, referring to a US-French draft currently in dispute.

The proposal has won the support of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan who has repeated calls for a cessation of hostilities since the conflict began in mid-July, said Churkin, adding that he expects a vote on Friday evening so that council members would have time to consult their governments.

Consecutive talks aimed at ending the conflict have faltered since Lebanon objected to the draft resolution cosponsored by France and the United States, which calls for a complete end to the Israel-Hezbollah hostilities but make no mention of such key issues as those concerning Israel's withdrawal and the swap of prisoners between the two sides.

The UN ambassadors of the United States and France continued their talks Thursday over the wording of the US-French draft in an effort to incorporate the demands of the Arab nations.

Despite some progress reported on the draft, differences remained and both sides refrained from disclosing when a deal would be reached.

US Ambassador John Bolton acknowledged that there had been no agreement but still insisted that a vote was possible on Friday.

"We have not yet reached agreement but will continue to work onit and will continue to work on it this evening and meet again early tomorrow morning," Bolton said after talks with his French counterpart, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere.

"We're making progress and it's entirely possible we could have a vote tomorrow," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency August 11, 2006)

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