PARIS, July 28 (Reuters) – U.N. Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said on Friday it would difficult to agree a ceasefire in the Lebanon conflict without involving Iran and Syria, backers of Hezbollah guerrillas fighting Israeli forces.
The Norwegian diplomat also told the newspaper Le Figaro that he thought there was little chance of a quick ceasefire in the 17-day-old conflict, which has killed hundreds of civilians.
“Without these two countries (Iran and Syria) it will be extremely difficult to reach a ceasefire,” Roed-Larsen told the French daily.
“It is too early to say if they can be associated (with resolving the crisis). Kofi Annan is in touch with all parties. He has spoken with the presidents of Iran and Syria.”
The conflict was triggered on July 12 when Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight in a cross-border raid, provoking massive military retaliation by Israel.
Asked if a quick ceasefire was possible, he said: “Frankly, no. Neither Israel nor Hezbollah are displaying any sign of accepting one right now. On the contrary, both have remained very belligerent.” He denied that an international conference in Rome on Wednesday had been a failure even though it had not called for an immediate end to hostilities.
“It would have been naive to think we could have solved all the problems in half a day,” he said.
At least 445 people, mostly civilians, have been confirmed killed in Lebanon, according to a Reuters tally. Fifty-one Israelis, including 18 civilians, have been killed.