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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Blair confident of UN resolution
Tony Blair
Tony Blair is about to set off for his family holiday in Barbados

Tony Blair says he hopes to see a UN resolution to end the fighting in the Middle East agreed by Wednesday.

The prime minister, who has left London for a Caribbean holiday, told the BBC the international community should "get it down and get it done without delay".

He said diplomats would "take account" of representations from the Lebanese government and other Arab states.

He also defended his decision not to call for an "immediate" ceasefire, saying the situation was "complicated".

Consensus hopes

Mr Blair spoke as a delegation from the Arab League was on its way to New York to try to persuade the UN Security Council to change its draft resolution to call for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces.

He told the BBC he believed the aims of both Israel and Lebanon could be met and suggested there could be consensus.

I don't think the idea is actually for British ground forces to be in there
Tony Blair

"I think we can achieve what the Lebanese government want to see as well as what the Israeli government wants to see, which is the government of Lebanon back in full charge of its own territory without leaving a vacuum in which the Hezbollah militia can move in," he said.

"I think we need to do three things really now - the first is that we need to take account obviously of any reasonable representations made about the existing UN resolution.

"The second thing, however, is to get it down and get it done without delay.

"Let's get the resolution which will call for the cessation of hostilities and then thirdly that will give us the space in which to deal with the long-term solution, both for the Lebanon, which is putting the government of Lebanon back in charge of its country.

"And also, and I believe this very, very strongly, to return to the Israel-Palestine question, which I think is completely fundamental to the whole of the issues in the Middle East."

Humanitarian help

Mr Blair, who is en route to Barbados to join his family for a postponed summer vacation, said he did not think British troops would be involved in any international stabilisation force.

"I don't think the idea is actually for British ground forces to be in there," he said.

"For very obvious reasons - particularly with Afghanistan at the moment - we have got a lot of commitments."

But the UK would be more involved in providing humanitarian aid and rebuilding Lebanon's infrastructure, he said.

It comes as British charities say they are struggling to deliver humanitarian aid to the worst-affected parts of Lebanon.

Oxfam is calling for an immediate ceasefire by all parties, without which it says it cannot get aid through to those who desperately need it in the south of the country.

Save The Children's operations director in Lebanon, Jeremy Bodin, also called for an end to hostilities, which he said were compromising the charity's humanitarian efforts.

He told BBC News: "We cannot have guarantees at all that our convoys or cars are not going to be targeted.

"We want a total ceasefire, now."

Prescott takes over?

Mr Blair insisted he would stay in charge of the government's response to the conflict while on his break and would keep in touch with other world leaders.

He said he would do "all I can possibly do" in terms of negotiations while away.

"I've put off going away for a couple of days because it was necessary to get everybody in the international community together and get a text [of the resolution] and we've done it now."

BBC correspondents say the UN Security Council will vote, at the very earliest, on the draft resolution on Tuesday.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is expected to take control of the day-to-day running of the country in Mr Blair's absence, but the prime minister will keep control of the Lebanon negotiations.




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