The US State Department's third-ranking official reaffirmed the White House's position that Israel had the right to defend itself and contended on Sunday that an agreement was near on ending the fighting that has ravaged Lebanon.
Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns expressed optimism despite the IAF missile attack Sunday that killed at least 56 people, most of them children, in the southern Lebanon village of Qana. Burns said the US was committed to securing a cease-fire between Israel and Hizbullah, focusing on a multinational force in the region.
"This is a very sad day. We are working toward that cease-fire," Burns said. "We are close to a political agreement between Israel and Lebanon to end this fighting."
Yet he endorsed Israel's military objectives, saying "This has not been a good two and a half weeks for Hizbullah from a military point of view, and they've got to be worried about continued Israeli offensive operations."