US says Lebanese force need help to keep peace

The United States is willing to consider a Lebanese proposal to move armed forces into Hizbullah-controlled areas but is convinced that Lebanon is not equipped to handle the job on its own, the White House said Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Bush administration worked behind the scenes to ready a joint US-French cease-fire proposal for a vote at the United Nations Security Council this week. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to address the council at a vote tentatively scheduled for Thursday. The issue of who will patrol southern Lebanon has become the dominant sticking point in UN cease-fire negotiations. IDF ground troops currently are in the area, and Lebanon and other Arab nations are insisting they must leave before an agreement can be reached. President George W. Bush said Monday that he wants an international force to replace the Israeli soldiers, but that could take weeks.