Sweden could host Lebanon aid talks

Sweden has offered to host an international aid conference for Lebanon at the end of the month, the prime minister's office said on Sunday.

Swedish foreign minister Jan Eliasson called Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and told him his country was ready to host the conference on August 31st to discuss economic and humanitarian assistance for the war-torn country, Siniora’s office said.

On August 8th, Swedish prime minister Göran Persson first told his Lebanese counterpart of the offer from Stockholm, but said that such a conference could only be held after the adoption of a United Nations resolution calling for an end to the conflict.

Security Council Resolution 1701 was adopted unanimously in New York on Friday, and in Lebanon and Israel on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Israel said it would stop its offensive at 0500 GMT on Monday, in line with a request from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Since the conflict began on July 12th, more than 1,000 Lebanese and some 150 Israelis have been killed.

Much of Lebanon’s infrastructure has been the target for Israeli bombardment, with damage estimated at more than 2.5 billion dollars.

More than 6,500 homes have been destroyed and nearly a million Lebanese – almost a quarter of the population – have been displaced.