LONDON (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia called for a ceasefire in the Middle East on Tuesday and urged the world to focus on the plight of the Lebanese people.
“We both agree the real solution is to have Lebanon come back to its sovereignty and its territorial integrity but for that to happen there is a necessary first step which is a ceasefire to stop the carnage,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters after talks in London with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
“It is Lebanese people who are dying, Lebanese infrastructure which is being destroyed and for no fault of the Lebanese people themselves,” Saud said.
Blair and President Bush are the only top Western leaders not to call publicly for an immediate halt to the fighting between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.
Saud held talks with Bush in Washington on Sunday and requested the U.S. back an immediate ceasefire in fighting that has killed 404 people in Lebanon and 41 Israelis.
Blair said on Monday he hoped a peace plan for Lebanon could emerge within days that could lead to a ceasefire, but only after details were worked out for an international force.
Asked his view of Britain’s support for the U.S. position on Lebanon, Saud said: “Well I hope the support will be for the Lebanese position on the Lebanon. This is what we are urging everybody.”
“The crisis is Lebanon’s crisis, it’s not Britain’s or America’s or Saudi Arabia’s crisis, and what we need is to help that country overcome this crisis and we can only do that by having it achieve again its sovereignty over its territory.”
“This will be the solution that will be to everybody’s interest,” he said.
On his position toward Hizbollah, Saud said: “It’s not a matter of being critical of Hizbollah, we are for Lebanon.”