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Rice: Conditions in Mideast Not Conducive for Cease-fire


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says any resolution of the latest crisis in the Middle East cannot be reached hastily, and needs to have what she described as "lasting value." Along those lines, she added that there are international efforts under way to create what she called "conducive circumstances" for a cease-fire.

A week of violence between Israel and the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon has led to the deaths of more than 200 people, on both sides.

Visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told journalists at the State Department that an urgent priority for his country is getting the two sides to agree to observe a cease-fire.

"A cease-fire is imperative, and we have to keep working to reach that objective," he said. "It is imperative. We have to bring it to an end as soon as possible."

Speaking at a joint news appearance with the Egyptian foreign minister, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she supports the idea of a cease-fire.

"We all agree it should happen as soon as possible, when conditions are conducive to do so," she added.

Leaders at the just-concluded G-8 summit issued a statement calling on both sides, Israel and Hezbollah, to take actions that could defuse tensions. It did not call for an immediate cease-fire, but Rice praised it as an "eloquent" statement that is helping to create what she described as circumstances for one.

"We all want a cessation of violence," she said. "We all want a protection of civilians. We have to make certain that anything that we do is going to be of lasting value. The Middle East has been through too many spasms of violence, and we have to deal with underlying conditions, so that we can create sustainable conditions for political progress there."

The secretary said she is focused on this issue, and has been in close consultations with other countries, including the G-8 leading industrialized nations and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, known as the P-5.

She added that she intends to go to the region, but only when it is, in her words, "appropriate," "necessary," and "helpful to the situation."

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