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Rice, UN Mediators Discuss Lebanon Crisis --> Condoleezza Rice (file photo) (epa) July 21, 2006 -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today expressed concern about the explosive situation in the Middle East as she met in New York with a three-man UN mediation team just back from the region.

Rice, accompanied by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, met with the UN team composed of Vijay Nambiar, Alvaro de Soto, and Terje Roed-Larsen in New York.

"The first goal is to secure urgently some form of cessation of hostilities," Nambiar, the delegation leader, told reporters. "This is essential so that captives are protected and released, humanitarian access is assured, civilian casualties are dramatically reduced, and the political space is opened to negotiate a full and durable cease-fire."

Rice said everybody wants to find a way that will contribute to a stable and democratic and peaceful Middle East.

Rice is expected to travel to the Middle East soon to press for a political solution to the crisis.

Meanwhile, the White House announced today that British Prime Minister Tony Blair will hold talks in Washington with U.S. President George W. Bush on the crisis on July 28.

(compiled from agency reports)

UN Peacekeepers
UN peacekeepers in Haiti in February 2006 (AFP)

MISSION In cases in which international intervention in regional conflicts is deemed necessary, peacekeeping missions authorized by the UN Security Council provide legitimacy by demonstrating the commitment of the international community to address such crises.

MANDATE UN peacekeeping missions are prepared, managed, and directed by the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The unique mandates of peacekeeping missions falls under the authority of the UN's Security Council and General Assembly, and under the command of the UN secretary-general.

MONEY Funding for UN peacekeeping missions is provided by UN member states. All are legally obliged to pay a share under an established formula. The leading financial providers as of 2006 were: the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada, Spain, China, and the Netherlands.

MORE All UN peacekeeping missions share the goals of alleviating human suffering and creating conditions for self-sustaining peace. Missions can consist of armed or unarmed military components, depending on their mandate, and various civilian tasks.

Military operations can include:
· Deploying to prevent the outbreak of conflict or the spillover of conflict across borders;
· Stabilizing conflict situations after a cease-fire in order to create an environment for the parties to reach a lasting peace agreement;
· Assisting in implementing comprehensive peace agreements;
· Leading states or territories through a transition to stable government, based on democratic principles, good governance, and economic development.

HISTORY There have been 60 peacekeeping operations since 1948. Fifteen peacekeeping missions were in operation in mid-2006, employing more than 60,000 troops, 7,000 police, and over 2,500 military observers. Peacekeeping operations in 2006 were supported by uniformed personnel provided by 109 countries.

(source: UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations)


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