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Rice Says No Ceasefire With Armed Hezbollah


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she wants to see a sustainable ceasefire in the Middle East. But , the Bush administration says peace will not come, as long as Hezbollah remains an armed threat to Israel.

Secretary of State Rice says the United States obviously wants the violence to end. But she says a ceasefire that does not address the root causes will not hold.

She says any ceasefire that leaves Hezbollah with the ability to launch rocket attacks on Israel, and opens the door to Iranian and Syrian interference will accomplish little.

"And we will be right back here, perhaps, in a worse circumstance, because the terrorists will assume that nobody is willing to take on what has been a very clear assault, now, on the progress that is being made by moderate forces in the Middle East," she said.

She delivered that message in St. Petersburg, Russia, on the sidelines of the Group of Eight Summit, and repeated it later on American television.

In a series of interviews on several broadcast networks, she said, now is the time to bolster support for moderate forces in the Middle East, so they can take a strong stand against the extremists.

On the FOX News Sunday program, she said extremist elements are alarmed by progress toward democracy in the region.

"They believe we are going to succeed, and they are determined to stop it and we are determined that they will not," she said.

Rice was asked if she might engage in shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East.

"Well, I am thinking about it, as you might imagine, and assessing it every day, and certainly stand ready to do so, when I believe I can make a difference," she said.

A prominent member of the Senate told CNN's Late Edition program that the Bush administration should send a high-level envoy to the Middle East, as soon as possible. California Democrat Diane Feinstein suggested former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton.

"I think it needs hands on," she said. "And I think that is advisable. I think there are people who know this situation backwards and forwards and could be of help."

Appearing on the same program, Russia's foreign minister talked at length about the situation in the Middle East, which has overshadowed the first G-8 summit hosted by his country. Sergei Lavrov said it is wrong to assign blame, and too simplistic to say Hezbollah provoked the crisis, and Israel overreacted.

"A lack of progress for many decades in implementing the Security Council resolutions on the comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the cause of all crises, which happen in the Middle East," he said.

A short time earlier, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, took to the airwaves in Lebanon, and warned of even more bloodshed to come.

In remarks simulcast on CNN, he said Israel is ignorant of Hezbollah's military capacity, and the Israelis should brace themselves for - what he called - a surprise.

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