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Rice sees bombs as birth pangs
by ALJ
Saturday Jul 22nd, 2006 7:44 AM
Condoleezza Rice has described the plight of Lebanon as a part of the "birth pangs of a new Middle East" and said that Israel should ignore calls for a ceasefire.
"This is a different Middle East. It's a new Middle East. It's hard, We're going through a very violent time," the US secretary of state said.

"A ceasefire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo.

"Such a step would allow terrorists to launch attacks at the time and terms of their choosing and to threaten innocent people, Arab and Israeli, throughout the region."

She was speaking on Saturday after meeting with members of a United Nations team that had just returned from the region.

More than 300 Lebanese civilians have been killed in 11 days of Israeli air and artillery strikes against Hezbollah, the armed Lebanese Shia group.

The present round of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah broke out after Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12.

Rice will travel to the Middle East some time next week. Her itinerary has not yet been announced.

Call for negotiations

Hezbollah has offered to release the two soldiers if Israel frees Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

But Israel has said that Hezbollah must release the soldiers unconditionally and says that it will not halt its offensive until Lebanon implements UN resolution 1559 and disarms Hezbollah.

by reposted
Saturday Jul 22nd, 2006 8:34 AM
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - The United States will urge Middle East leaders to help boost pressure on Hizbollah as a means of solving the crisis in southern Lebanon, President George W. Bush said on Saturday.

Intense fighting between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas has prompted growing international calls for an immediate ceasefire.

The Bush administration has rejected that approach and U.S. 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 Hizbollah.

"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.

by CNN (reposted)
Sunday Jul 23rd, 2006 4:48 PM
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Against growing international criticism that Israel's response to Hezbollah's July 12 attack has been disproportionate, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Sunday defended Israel's use of force.