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Tony Blair Photo: AP
Tony Blair Photo: AP
 
Rice. Wants a stable ceasefire Photo: AP
Rice. Wants a stable ceasefire Photo: AP
 
Rice and Siniora in Beirut Photo: Reuters
Rice and Siniora in Beirut Photo: Reuters
 
 

Blair: Situation in Lebanon a catastrophe

(VIDEO) British prime minister speaks during meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who is visiting London. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice holds series of meetings in Beirut, says she is very concerned over Lebanese people's conditions

New agencies
Published: 07.24.06, 17:23 / Israel News

VIDEO - British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday afternoon defined what is taking place in Lebanon as a "catastrophe." According to Blair, the situation is harming the state and weakening democracy.

 

He said he hoped a peace plan for Lebanon can emerge within days that could lead to a cessation of

hostilities, but said details need to be worked out for an international force before a ceasefire could be declared that would hold on both sides.

 

"I don't want the killing to go on. I want the killing to stop. Now. It's got to stop on both sides and it's not going to stop on both sides without a plan to make it stop," Blair said.

 

Blair spoke during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who is visiting London, while US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Lebanon for a surprise visit.

 

US Secretary of State Rice in Beirut (Video: Reuters)

Rice is visiting Lebanon and will arrive in Israel as part of international efforts to find a diplomatic solution for the crisis between Israel and Hizbullah. Upon the landing of her helicopter in Beirut, Rice rushed to meet with Lebanese Prime Minister Foud Siniora.

 

"Thank you for your courage and steadfastness," she told Siniora, who has repeatedly pleaded for an immediate ceasefire.

 

'Concerned about humanitarian situation'

 

She later met with Shiite Muslim Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who is affiliated with Hizbullah and Syria. At the start of the meeting she said: "I am deeply concerned about the Lebanese people and what they are enduring."

 

"I am concerned about the humanitarian situation," she said, without giving details of any American assistance.


Rice and Siniora meet in Beirut (Photo: AP)

 

An American source noted that the aim of the surprise visit by the secretary of state is to support the Lebanese government. The source added that during the visit, Rice will declare the American government's plan to provide assistance to Lebanon.

 

Later Monday, Rice is expected to land in Israel. In her visit, the US secretary of state will meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Later in the week, Rice is expected to attend an international conference in Rome, where she will discuss the Lebanese issue.

 

On her way to the region, Rice said she wanted to create conditions for a sustainable ceasefire in a war that has cost 373 dead in Lebanon and at least 37 Israeli lives in 13 days.

 

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak on Monday also called for an immediate ceasefire in Israel's military campaign against Hizbullah in Lebanon, saying a longer term solution could be worked out later.

 

In a statement carried by the nation's Middle East News Agency, Mubarak also warned that the onslaught could cause "a humanitarian catastrophe."

 

"The situation is very grave and needs an urgent action to reach a cease-fire and put an end to hostilities," Mubarak said. "After the cease fire we can deal with all issues causing the current problem."

 

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