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EU fails to agree on immediate Mideast ceasefire 

     GERMANY AND THE NETHERLANDS SAYS NO TO CEASEFIRE  AUGUST.1.2006            

 

BRUSSELS  - The European Union has failed to agree to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East, preferring instead to demand an "immediate cessation of hostilities  In a carefully worded joint declaration agreed after more than three hours of haggling, they said a "sustainable ceasefire" should follow the cessation of hostilities, without elaborating on the difference between the two. The failure came after Britain and Germany, backed by The Netherlands, rejected a draft compromise by the EU's Finnish presidency calling for an "immediate ceasefire" between  Israel and Hezbelloh, according to diplomats Tuesday. "The Council  of EU ministers  calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities to be followed by a sustainable ceasefire," said Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency. He was speaking to reporters after the ministers, meeting in emergency talks, wrangled for three and a half hours over the exact wording of the joint EU declaration. It's important to get the words and concepts right,  he said, adding: "There are no divisions in the European Union. The EU talks came amid sharp disagreement within the bloc about whether to call for an immediate ceasefire. While France has led calls for an immediate ceasefire, Britain and Germany have pushed for a UN accord to deploy an international force to secure the Israeli-Lebanon border and ensure that any truce is sustainable. French Foreign Ministe Philippe Douste Blazy welcomed the EU agreement, saying the bloc had spoken with "one voice. It is an important step. The European Union is supporting the resolution proposed by France to the UN Security Council, he said, denying any difference of view between Paris and Berlin. The Finnish minister meanwhile underlined the need for urgent action at the UN Security Council to provide the framework for a sustainable ceasefire, notably agreement on an international stabilization force. Once such a framework has been established -- and we are hopefully talking more about days rather than weeks EU member states have indicated their readiness to contribute to such an operation," he said.