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France Calls for Immediate Israel-Hezbollah Cease-Fire


France's foreign minister is calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Israel-Lebanon crisis, saying the conflict risks destroying Lebanon.

Philippe Douste-Blazy says the international community must realize the severity of the situation and find conditions for a lasting end to the violence. He spoke in Cairo after talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned an immediate ceasefire would be little more than a "false promise" without addressing the root cause of the problem. She says the United States urgently seeks an end to the violence and a way to create the conditions for stability and lasting peace.

Rice heads to Israel and the Palestinian territories Sunday. She then travels to Italy to meet with a contact group to discuss helping Lebanon address its political, economic and security challenges.

During a nationally televised interview on Friday on CNN'S Larry King Live program, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he did not call for a cease-fire during his speech Thursday at the world body, but instead for a "cessation of hostilities." He said he and Rice do not disagree on the long-range goals for ending the conflict.

The U.N. chief also said that if Israel continues its military offensive in Lebanon, the world would forget "the original sin" committed by Hezbollah's abduction of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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