- Nov 22, 2003
- Reaction score
Harper forces debate on Mideast declaration
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers questions from journalists covering Lebanon issues during the closing press conference of the XIth Francophone Summit in Bucharest, Romania, Friday Sept. 29, 2006.(AP / Vadim Ghirda)
CTV.ca News Staff
Updated: Fri. Sep. 29 2006 2:07 PM ET
Members of the Francophonie summit have agreed to a compromise on a contentious resolution after Prime Minister Stephen Harper blocked the original proposal.
The original wording of the resolution recognized Lebanon's suffering in this summer's 34-day conflict, but not Israel's.
Harper took a strong stance against the Egyptian-proposed resolution which most of the 72 members supported. He urged the organization to recognize the suffering of both nations.
After returning to the conference table to hammer out the wording of the resolution, the French-speaking states eventually agreed unanimously to support a compromise that called for the end of hostilities and a return to calm.
"They spent much of the afternoon at the conference table re-drafting a resolution with the wording Harper wanted," said CTV's Rosemary Thompson reporting from the summit.
French President Jacques Chirac urged members to consider Harper's proposal. :shocked:
Lebanon had reservations, however. Culture Minister Tarek Mitri said he wanted a resolution that favoured his country and condemned the war as deplorable.
He also said Canada was the only country that opposed the original resolution.
Harper said Canada deplored the war but couldn't accept a resolution that didn't acknowledge that Israelis had also suffered.
"I hope we can all recognize the suffering of humans -- men and women -- and not just suffering based on people's nationality,'' Harper said.
"Yes, we can deplore the war and we can recognize the victims, but la Francophonie can't recognize victims according to their nationality."
The 34-day conflict which began on July 12 killed 855 Lebanese and 159 Israelis. Israel bombarded Lebanon with air and artillery attacks, while Hezbollah launched nearly 4,000 rockets into northern Israel, forcing about 300,000 residents to evacuate and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to buildings and the economy.
Earlier in the summit, Harper touted Canada's work promoting human rights, democracy and freedom in countries such as Afghanistan, Sudan and Haiti, and called on French-speaking nations to do more to help Sudan.
Harper said discussions at this week's summit were productive in a number of areas, such as education, information and technology.
The next summit, scheduled for October 2008, will be held in Quebec City.