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EU considers deployment of peacekeepers to Lebanon

British PM Blair says deployment of international forces along northern border is only way 'to get cessation of hostilities.' UN Secretary-General Annan appeals to Israel to abide by international law, spare civilian lives and infrastructure

The European Union said Monday it was weighing the deployment of a peacekeeping force to Lebanon to help end fighting between Israel and Hizbullah.

 

"It could be that the European Union - or the United Nations - might have a peacekeeping role," said Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomoija, whose country now holds the EU presidency.

 

Earlier, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday called for the deployment of international forces to stop the bombardment of Israel from southern Lebanon.

 

"The only way we're going to get a cessation of hostilities is if we have the deployment of an international force into that area that can stop the bombardment coming over into Israel and therefore gives Israel a reason to stop its attacks on Hizbullah," Blair said after meeting with Annan.

 

"The only way then that this is going to work ... Is if we actually give people a reason for ceasing hostilities."

 

Annan appealed to Israel to abide by international law and spare civilian lives and infrastructure.

 

"We should not inflict any more suffering on both parties and they should respect international humanitarian law," Annan said.

 

He also said the United Nations was considering evacuation plans for UN dependents from Lebanon, while Blair said Britain was looking at the possibility of creating an air bridge for its citizens.

 

Debate over the Middle East has dominated discussions at this year's Group of Eight summit, overshadowing Russian President Vladimir Putin's
agenda of energy security, education and fighting infectious diseases.

 

Their comments came a day after world leaders forged a unified response at their G-8 summit to the crisis in the Middle East, blaming Hezbollah and Hamas for the escalating violence and recognizing Israel's right to defend itself – although they called on the Jewish state to show restraint.

 

'A plan of action'

 

The statement was a compromise between a US position strongly supporting Israel's right to defend itself against terrorist attacks and the views of other G-8 countries that Israel was engaging in excessive force.

 

"The most important thing is that it gives us - under the auspices of the UN - a plan of action," Blair said.

 

"I am most pleased the leaders came together with a statement to say that we condemn violence, and to honor innocent life," US President George W. Bush said Monday before heading into a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

 

The leaders of major industrialized countries - the United States, Russia, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada - were holding final sessions Monday with the leaders of five fast-growing economies: India, China, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the leader of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States, and Denis Sassou-Nuesso, president of the Republic of the Congo and chairman of the African Union, were also to participate.

 

Those talks were expected to focus on more traditional summit fare, such as restarting stalled global trade talks and implementing a major debt relief program for the world's poorest nations that was announced at last year's summit. Pascal Lamy, head of the World Trade Organization, was expected to attend.

 

In the meantime, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin is set to visit Beirut on Monday in order to "show the French support of the Lebanese people," said sources at the office of French President Jacque Chirac.

 

De Villapin was asked to visit Lebanon by Chirac and is expected to meet with his counterpart, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

 


פרסום ראשון: 07.17.06, 10:17
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