Friday, July 21, 2006

Immediate Cease-Fire a "False Promise"

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice rejected the "false promise" of an immediate cease-fire in the spreading war between Israel and Hezbollah on Friday and said she would seek long-term peace during a trip to the Mideast beginning Sunday.

The top U.S. diplomat defended her decision not to meet with Hezbollah leaders or their Syrian backers during her visit.

" Syria' name knows what it needs to do, and Hezbollah is the source of the problem," Rice said as she previewed her trip, which begins with a stop in Israel.

Rice said the United States is committed to ending the bloodshed, but not before certain conditions are met. The Bush administration has said that Hezbollah must first turn over the two Israeli soldiers whose capture set off the 10-day-old violence, and stop firing missiles into Israel.

"We do seek an end to the current violence, we seek it urgently. We also seek to address the root causes of that violence," Rice said. "A cease-fire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo."

The United States has resisted international pressure to lean on its ally Israel to halt the fighting. The U.S. position has allowed Israel more time to try to destroy what both nations consider a Hezbollah terrorist network in southern Lebanon.

I watched her press conference to day and I was deeply impressed. She was articulate, clearly in command of her subject and she hit all of the right notes. I would imagine that, if you found her across a conference table from you, that she would be a force to be reckoned with. She is by far the best cabinet pick that President Bush has made.

Is she presidential timber? Well, I certainly hope so. Given what I have seen thus far, I would not only vote for her, I would actinely work for her election.

Meanwhile, Kofi Annan continued to sing the only song he knows:

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan demanded an immediate cease-fire Thursday, and denounced the actions of both Israel and Hezbollah. Lebanon's beleaguered prime minister has also asked for an immediate halt to the fighting.

Whatever, Kofi. Just sit down, shut up and we'll call you when we need you.

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