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NZ calls for complete cessation of hostitlities

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand

31 July 2006 Media Statement

NZ calls for complete cessation of hostitlities


Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that Israel’s suspension of air raids over southern Lebanon is a first step towards peace but both sides must immediately move to a complete cessation of hostilities.

“The Qana bombing and the deaths of around sixty civilians, many of them children, is a horrific tragedy of war,” Helen Clark said.

“While we welcome the fact that in its wake Israel has now announced a two-day suspension of its air attacks, it is a tragedy that it takes such a terrible incident to bring some reduction in the level of violence and killing.

“Today’s suspension of air raids presents an opportunity for both sides – Israel and Hezbollah – to halt all fighting completely and allow time for a UN-backed international force to be brought together to enforce peace in the region.”

“A series of steps need to occur:

- the United Nations, and especially the permanent members of the Security Council, need to agree to urgent action in support of a lasting ceasefire.

- Hezbollah must stop its attacks

- Israel must stop its disproportionate response which is taking such a heavy toll on civilians.

Helen Clark said New Zealand would attend the United Nations meeting in New York planned for Tuesday which will discuss the situation and investigate options for an international peacekeeping force.

“New Zealand would support any international initiative aimed at securing a complete ceasefire and a lasting solution. We would look to contribute to an international peacekeeping operation, albeit in a modest way due to our ongoing military commitments in Timor Leste, Afghanistan, and the Solomons,” Helen Clark said.


ENDS

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