U.S. to Help Train, Equip Lebanon Army
- By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer
Thursday, August 3, 2006
(08-03) 13:38 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) --
The United States plans to help train and equip the Lebanese army so it can take control of all of the nation's territory when warfare between Israel and Hezbollah eases, the .
The program was to take effect "once we have conditions on the ground permitting," spokesman Sean McCormack said.
Last week, the .
Other nations will help out, too, McCormack said, as American diplomats consulted with French and other officials on a U.N. resolution for a cease-fire in Lebanon.
"We feel pretty optimistic that there's going to be something" worked out on a resolution at the end of the week or early next week, White House spokesman Tony Snow said.
Gen. John Abizaid, who heads the U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday the Lebanese armed force "needs a significant upgrade of equipment and training capability that I believe the Western nations, , can assist with."
the war, command officials visited the Lebanese armed forces for an assessment, Abizaid said, and "we saw that they needed some significant spare parts" and other help.
On prospects for ending the fighting, he said "it will never work for Lebanon if, over time, Hezbollah has a greater military capacity than the Lebanese armed forces."
Rice, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns and Assistant Secretary David Welch are working with other governments, mostly by telephone, to put together a resolution "that stands up," McCormack said.
This would include disarming Hezbollah, already ordered by the Security Council in 2004, and establishing an international peacekeeping force to move into southern Lebanon.
Nations that would contribute troops are expected to meet next week at the U.N. A meeting was postponed on Monday and again on Thursday.
Rice plans to spend the weekend at President Bush's ranch in Texas and will be "working the phones from Crawford," McCormack said.
"There's still some diplomacy that needs to be done," he said,
Bush has said he does not envision having American ground troops in a peacekeeping force, but the
The administration is striving for a resolution that would end the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, now in its fourth week, and also establish conditions for a lasting cease-fire. Many other countries favor an immediate cease-fire.
The military training would be designed to help the Lebanese armed forces "exercise control and over all of Lebanese territory once we have an end to the fighting in such a way that is durable," McCormack said.