France in new bid for peace

Paris (Reuter) - French Foreign Minister, Herve de Charette, will return to Israel today for a meeting with Prime Minister Shimon Peres, his ministry said. Mr de Charette, who is on a Middle East shuttle aimed at winning a ceasefire in southern Lebanon, has prepared a new plan to end the fighting.

A statement by Francesaid Mr Peres would receive Mr de Charette, who is in Cairo after two visits to Israel and one to Syria and Lebanon, this morning.

France proposed yesterday that the United States and itself guarantee a ceasefire in south Lebanon, according to a plan made available by diplomatic sources after Mr de Charette arrived in Egypt on the latest leg of a peace shuttle.

The French plan called for commitments by Israel, Lebanon and Hizbollah guerrillas not to attack civilian populations in each other's country.

"These commitments are noted by the guarantor third countries (the US, France and possibly other countries, particularly European)," the document said. It also aims to obtain the agreement of "other interested countries in the region, notably Syria".

It differed substantially from the US proposals in that it did not call for an end to Hizbollah attacks on Israeli forces occupying south Lebanon, nor require a direct Syrian guarantee.