Truthout.org Editor's Note: The headline and tone of this article - and all other US mainstream media accounts of the events in Rome - are deceptive and misleading. The headline, "Nations Fail to Reach Agreement on Middle East Cease-Fire," skirts the primary issue as stated in the article itself, "The participating foreign ministers could not agree on the timing of a cease-fire, with the United States standing by its position that a settlement be in place for an 'enduring' peace prior to a cessation of hostilities." The reason an agreement could not be reached was that the US "stood by its position." A senior US official attending the meeting responded in part, "It was never the purpose of this meeting to achieve a cease-fire. That was never the expectation going into this thing ..." However, all other nations in attendance were prepared to do just that had the US not objected. Fierce fighting, wide-spread destruction, death, and severe injury continued today for Palestinians, Lebanese and Israelis alike. - ma/TO
Nations Fail to Reach Agreement on
Middle East Cease-Fire
By Robin Wright and Fred Barbash
The Washington Post
Wednesday 26 July 2006
Rome - As the fighting and bombing intensified in Lebanon and Israel, an urgently convened, high-level international conference in Rome concluded in open disagreement, failing to reach accord on a plan to bring a halt to the strife.
A formal statement from the 18 nations agreed on the need for humanitarian assistance and for an eventual international force to be deployed in Lebanon.
But the participating foreign ministers could not agree on the timing of a cease-fire, with the United States standing by its position that a settlement be in place for an "enduring" peace prior to a cessation of hostilities.
And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan publicly disagreed at a grim-faced news conference on whether Iran and Syria should be involved in talks, with Annan saying they should, and Rice denouncing the two nations for their role in the region.
After listening to the news conference, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora expressed despair. Saying his country was being "cut to pieces" by Israel, Siniora said: "We really wanted, on the one hand, to really ask the participants to provide humanitarian relief assistance, which is important, and to provide all other assistance. . . . But more, we wanted a cease-fire, an immediate cease-fire."