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Rice warns UN resolution may not end fighting

US says draft is first step to stop crisis

CRAWFORD, Texas -- Top Bush administration officials said yesterday they expect the UN Security Council to vote on a cease-fire resolution for the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict soon, but warn it's unlikely to end violence immediately.

The US officials who helped negotiate the draft resolution described it as the first step to try to solve a longstanding problem -- militant Hezbollah forces operating a sort of ``state-within-a-state" in Lebanon.

``We're trying to deal with a problem that has been festering and brewing in Lebanon now for years and years and years," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. ``And so it's not going to be solved by one resolution in the Security Council."

Security Council members were working on a second resolution that would form an international force that would move in to Lebanon and help take control of the southern part of the country, where Hezbollah has been operating and based its fight against Israel.

Rice said that process would take several months, but the important first step is to stop the large-scale military operations between Israel and Hezbollah that have been devastating civilians for more than three weeks.

``These things take a while to wind down," she said. ``It is certainly not the case that probably all violence is going to stop, but the kind of large-scale violence that is really so hard on the Lebanese and Israeli people -- the rocketing into Israel, the major offensive military operations -- it's important to get those stopped."

Rice spoke to reporters near President Bush's ranch, where he was on a 10-day vacation from the White House. With the full U N Security Council considering the draft proposal developed by the US and the French, Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley spent the weekend at the president's side.

The proposal calls for Hezbollah to stop all military operations and for Israel to stop its offensive military drive against Lebanon. The proposal would allow Israel to strike back if Hezbollah were to break a cease-fire.

Hadley said the United States hoped the resolution would be voted on this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

Fighting intensified as the diplomatic measure was considered.

Hezbollah unleashed its deadliest barrage of rockets into northern Israel yesterday , while Israeli jets fired missiles into Beirut's southern suburbs that shook the capital.

The Lebanese parliamentary speaker, a prominent Shi'ite who has been negotiating on behalf of Hezbollah, rejected the US-French plan because it did not include an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of Israeli troops.

US officials seemed to acknowledge that they don't expect Hezbollah to comply with the resolution, if it is approved.

Rice said once the resolution passes, ``then we'll see who is for peace and who isn't."

Hadley said Hezbollah's response to an approved resolution would be a ``clarifying moment."

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