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Israel delays withdrawal from Lebanon

Published September 29, 2006

JERUSALEM - Despite repeated assurances of a quick troop withdrawal from Lebanon, Israeli officials said Thursday they were reluctant to complete the pullout more than six weeks after a cease-fire agreement ended a month of bloody conflict.

Several issues remain unresolved, involving the future roles of Hezbollah guerrillas, U.N. forces and the Lebanese army in the border area, and the overall prospect of keeping the guns and rockets silent.

Israel launched a large-scale offensive in Lebanon after a July 12 cross-border raid by Hezbollah guerrillas who killed three soldiers and captured two others.

A U.N.-based cease-fire went into effect on Aug. 14.

Disagreements over the deployment of Lebanese and U.N. forces in southern Lebanon have delayed the final Israeli troop pullout, Israeli military officials said.

Condoleezza Rice plans Mideast talks next week

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returns to the Middle East next week for diplomatic meetings with Arab allies and Israel to test the waters for possible new moves toward peace.

Rice will travel to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and the West Bank, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday.

[Last modified September 29, 2006, 01:23:11]

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