PM Persson: Sweden ready to lead Lebonese aid efforts

Prime Minister Göran Persson says Sweden is ready to lead international efforts to help rebuild Lebanon by holding a donors conference in the next few weeks.  

Persson said:  in the last few days we have examined the possibility of assuming international leadership in a humanitarian effort to rebuild Lebanon again, adding that he was offering Sweden as a host for an international conference to take the lead in such an effort.  Persson told Swedish news agency TT that he has received positive responses to the idea from, among others, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac, UN Secretary-General Kofi Anna and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.  The Prime Minister also repeated his general support for Israel while criticizing what he calls its disproportional violence in the conflict.  He also reiterated his calls for an immediate ceasefire.

Some political analysts say the Social Democratic Prime Minister is trying to strengthen his profile on foreign policy issues prior to the hotly contested upcoming general elections here, scheduled for September 17th.