Photo: Reuters
President Bush
Photo: Reuters

Bush: Pressuring Hizbullah key in Mideast crisis

Bush blames Hizbullah for crisis, says Shiite group 'is no friend of Lebanon'

The United States will urge Middle East leaders to help boost pressure on Hizbullah as a means of solving the crisis in southern Lebanon, President George W. Bush said on Saturday.


Intense fighting between Israel and Hizbullah terrorists has prompted growing international calls for an immediate cease-fire.


The Bush administration has rejected that approach and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who leaves on Sunday for a trip to the region, said she would focus instead on finding a sustainable end to the violence.


Previewing Rice's trip in his weekly radio address, Bush said she would "make it clear that resolving the crisis demands confronting the terrorist group that launched the attacks and the nations that support it."

Bush cited the role of Iran and Syria in providing help to Hizbullah.


"Their actions threaten the entire Middle East and stand in the way of resolving the current crisis and bringing lasting peace to this troubled region," said Bush, who is spending the weekend at his Crawford ranch.


Rice is to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories and join Arab officials, including some from Lebanon, at an international conference on the crisis in Rome.


The 11-day bombardment of Lebanon by Israel has killed more than 300 people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, while more than 30 Israelis have been killed in Hizbollah rocket attacks on northern Israel.


The crisis began when Hizbullah captured two Israeli soldiers.


Bush stood by his stance that Israel had a right to act in its own defense.


The Bush administration has expressed worries the conflict might weaken the fragile government in Lebanon led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.


While reiterating his support for the Lebanese government, Bush laid blame for the problems squarely on Hizbullah.


"Hizbullah's practice of hiding rockets in civilian neighborhoods, and its efforts to undermine the democratically elected government have shown it to be no friend of Lebanon," he said. "By its actions, Hizbullah has jeopardized Lebanon's tremendous advances and betrayed the Lebanese people."


When Bush returns from Texas on Sunday, he and Rice will meet at the White House with Saudi officials to discuss the conflict. That meeting was arranged at the request of Saudi officials.


פרסום ראשון: 07.22.06, 10:29
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