WASHINGTON (AFP) -The United States said that it may seek a second UN resolution on the Middle East conflict to specify what role a multinational force for Lebanon would play in disarming Hezbollah.
“There will be another resolution coming out of the United Nations giving further instructions to the international force,” US President George W. Bush told a hastily announced press conference.
“First things first; is to get the rules of engagement clear, so that the force will be robust to help the Lebanese,” said Bush, who reiterated that “the Lebanese government is eventually going to have to deal with Hezbollah.”
Asked about a new measure to supplement UN Security Council resolution 1701, Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, told reporters at UN headquarters in New York: “Absolutely we’ve been thinking about it.”
“Although our preference would have been to have taken care of all of these issues in one resolution, we knew, because of the difficulties and complexities involved, that more than one resolution would be required,” said Bolton.
“And the issue of disarming Hezbollah, which is central not just to resolution of the current conflict, but central to the implementation of (UN Security Council Resolution) 1559, was going to have to be addressed, if not in this first resolution, in due course, he said.
“So that’s one of the elements we’re working on,” he said.
Asked whether the new resolution was necessary before the force could be deployed, Bolton replied: “No, I think the initial force can be deployed now. But it’s, obviously, closely linked.”
“And we want the disarming of Hezbollah to be accomplished rapidly so that the democratically elected government of Lebanon can establish full control over its territory,” said the US diplomat.
Bolton said some 70 countries had received draft rules of engagement for the international force on Friday but that “I don’t doubt that there will be other discussions on the rules of engagement.”
At the White House, however, one senior administration official said it was unclear whether a second resolution would be necessary.
“We expect that the United Nations, in cooperation with the troop-contributing nations, will be coming to agreement on the rules of engagement,” said the official, who requested anonymity.
“In that regard, we continue to consider the possibility of a second resolution as mentioned in UN Security Council Resolution 1701. We will continue to consult with our allies to determine whether and when such a step is required as the international force is formed,” said the official.
“As the president said, it is urgent that an effective international force be formed, that the leadership of that force be designated, and that the force be given robust rules of engagement and that it deploy quickly,” he stressed.