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.1. B8 SATURDAY, JULY 15, 2006 Middle East SALINA JOURNAL Bush refuses to press Israel for cease-fire President calls for Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan to explore peace options By TERENCE HUNT "Die Associated Press ST. PETERSBURG, Russia President Bush refused to press Israel for a- cease-fire in Mideast violence Friday, risking a wider breach with world leaders at a weekend summit already confronting crises with Iran and North Korea. Flying here from Bush called the leaders of Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan to explore ways to end three days of furious fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. Turning aside complaints that Israel is using excessive force, Bush rejected a cease-fire plea from Lebanese Prime IVIinister pSaad Saniora.
"The president is riot going to make military decisions for Israel," White House press secretary Tony Snow said. He said it was unlikely that either side would agree to a cease-fire now. The eruption of Mideast violence moved prominently onto the agenda of the summit beginning today In contrast with Bush's stand, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, "No hostage-takings are acceptable but neither is the use of full- scale force in response to these, even if unlawful, actions. We will demand that all sides involved in the conflict immediately stop the bloodshed." The summit is expected to issue a Mideast declaration, and the United States tried to shape it to be critical of Hezbollah and supportive of Lebanon's fragile government. French President Jacques Chirac accused Israel of going too far.
"One could ask if today there is not a sort of will to destroy Lebanon, its equipment, its roads, its communications," said Chirac, who has tried to patch relations with the U.S. after disagreements over the Iraq war. Before traveling here from Rome, Italian Premier Romano Prodi said the spiral of violence was making a return to dialogue difficult. "We have regressed 20 years. If we go on like this, all efforts made in the past years will have been in vain," he said.
Bush met with Putin ahead of today's opening of the annual summit of eight leading industrial powers. Despite political strains, the two leaders shook hands and hugged. "Solid friendship," Bush said of Putin as they and their wives went to dinner in a villa on the grounds of the opulent 18th century Konstantin Palace. The two leaders also will hold a news conference today Bush's firm support of Israel caused friction with allies as he seeks consensus against Iran and North Korea for their suspected nuclear weapons programs. The European Union has criticized Israel for using "disproportionate" force.
From Russia to Spain, leaders voiced concern at the escalation of the conflict. In Washington, Sen. John Warner, the Armed Services Committee chairman, urged the administration to be mindful of how Israel's response will affect the broader Mideast region. While Israel was "the victim of provocative attacks," Warner urged the administration to "think through very carefully how Israel's extraordinary reaction could affect our operations in Iraq and our joint diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue." Seeking Putin's cooperation on issues ranging from Iran and North Korea to terrorism and rising energy prices, Bush went out of his way to avoid criticizing Russia for what is widely perceived as backsliding on democracy and human rights. Bush's national security team was preoccupied with the situation in the Middle East, which was triggered when Hezbollah militants based in Lebanon crossed the border into Israel and captured two soldiers.
White House has few options in Mideast crisis By ANNE GEARAN Tlw Associalcd Press WASHINGTON The United States has few options and limited leverage as old animosities in the Middle East overtake hopes for peace and democracy One problem is there aren't- many people the U.S. can talk to. The United States has no diplomatic relations with the armed groups now fighting a two-front bat- tie with Israel, no relations ANALYSIS with one of their backers, Iran, and only limited dialogue with the other principal backer, Syria. Another problem is that the people the United States can talk to aren't able or willing to do as much as President Bush would like. The U.S.-allied Palestinian president is weak, the moderately pro-American Lebanese government threatened.
Relatively moderate Arab governments have their own reasons to try to stop the violence but do not want to be seen as carrying water for Israel or the United States. Even U.S. ally Israel, with a new and militarily untested government, may resist U.S. pleas for restraint in its escalating fight with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The United States considers Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups.
Israel destroyed the home and office of Hezbollah's leader Friday and tightened its blockade of Lebanon, blasting its air and road links to the outside world to punish Hezbollah for the capture of two Israeli soldiers. Lebanese guerrillas fired at least 50 rockets throughout the day, hitting more than a dozen communities across northern Israel. The death toll in three days of cross-border fighting in Israel and Lebanon continued to rise. The violence sent shock waves through a region already traumatized by battles in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas. Renewed fighting in Israel, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip come as the Bush administration was already busy elsewhere in the Middle East trying to head off an Iranian nuclear program that the West suspects is aimed at producing a bomb and minding the store amid unrelenting sectarian killings in Iraq.
Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice worked the phones Friday talking to Israeli, Palestinian and Lebanese leaders, among others, in hopes of defusing violence that has grown over three days. The United States is backing an urgent United Nations diplomatic mission to the region, but ruled out a new U.S. special envoy or shuttle diplomacy in the model of past U.S. involvement in Mideast crises. Sen.
Chuck Hagel, suggested Friday that the administration should appoint Colin Powell or James A. Baker III, both former secretaries of state, as a prominent envoy "The United States must show leadership and dii'ectly engage this crisis," Hagel said. "The United States is the only country with the ability to lead a coalition to prevent the region from spiraling out of control." Sen. Hillary Clinton, called the Lebanon fighting a failure of Bush administration Mideast policy "We've had five and a half years of a failed experiment in tough talk absent diplomacy and engagement," Clinton told NPR. "I think it's time to go back to what works, and what has historically worked and what can work again." The administration is doing enough, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
"You have the national security apparatus of the United States working on this issue, as well as a variety of other issues with which we are confronted around the world now," McCormack said. "One of the things you don't want to do in a situation like this is you don't want to have various envoys' diplomatic efforts stepping on one another," he said. I a a www.kaperoofing.com ESTABLISHED 1991 785-826-2577 (office) 785-643-3760 (Cell) Call us TODAY for a FREE Inspection Kape Roofing Gutters, Inc. 315 W.Pacific Ave. Salina, KS 67401 Limeade Cherry Pepsi Vanilla Pepsi Strawberry Limeade More! SUMMER 32 oz.
Drink Special 9th Kirwin 823-8066 Palestinians flood into Gaza from Egypt By The Associated Press RAFAH, Gaza Strip Palestinian militants forced open a border gate Friday between Egypt.and Gaza, letting hundreds of people pour across despite warning shots from Israeli helicopter gunships. At least 600 people mostly students and patients trapped at the border in the weeks the Rafah ci'ossing was closed passed freely over the frontier Six Palestinian militants stood by, periodically firing in the air, witnesses and Palestinian security said. Also Friday the United States pledged $50 million for Palestinian refugees, while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged Washington to pressure Israel to end its military offensive in the Gaza Strip. Abbas told Secretary of State za Rice in a telephone call that he was making every effort to end the Gaza crisis, the Palestinian leader's office said. The United States donated the money to the U.N.
Relief and Works Agency to aid Gaza Strip and West Bank residents impacted by the fighting, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch said after meeting Abbas on Friday Israel launched its offensive in Gaza after Palestinian militants tunneled under the border June 25 and attacked an Israeli army post, killing two soldiers and capturing a third. The Rafah border crossing Gaza's main gateway to the outside world has largely been closed since then. Masked Palestinian militants firing gims broke into the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, clearing the way for the trapped Gazans, Egyptian police Capt. Mohammed Abdel Hadi said.
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