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Rice in Israel for Talks on Conflict With Hezbollah in Lebanon


Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is in Israel for talks on how to end the conflict with Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon. The secretary's visit comes as the violence enters its second week amid continued cross-border attacks and ground fighting.

Speaking to reporters before her meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Secretary Rice said there is great sympathy for the innocent civilians caught up in the conflict, but she said, any cease-fire must be sustainable and work toward long-term peace in the region. "If we have learned anything, it is that any peace is going to have to be based on enduring principles and not temporary solutions. We will talk about how to get an enduring cessation of violence, how to deal with the significant humanitarian problems that are currently facing the people of Lebanon," she said.

Washington remains adamant any cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah militants must not leave Hezbollah in place as an armed militia along the border, able to threaten Israel at any time.

But the growing humanitarian crisis in Lebanon is also on the agenda. The White House announced that President Bush has ordered helicopters and ships to Lebanon to provide immediate assistance.

In Lebanon, the U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland announced an appeal for $150 million in aid for the Lebanese people. "Eight hundred thousand are now displaced or in desperate need of international humanitarian assistance. But, of course, we're also asking for a cessation of hostilities. Far too many civilians are suffering - both in northern Israel and all over here in Lebanon," he said.

As the conflict enters its second week, nearly 400 people have been killed in Lebanon, most of them civilians and among them many children. Around 40 civilians and soldiers have been killed in Israel.

As Rice traveled to the region, Israeli warplanes continued to launch raids into southern Lebanon, troops battled Hezbollah fighters in the far south and Hezbollah sent rockets into northern Israel.

Rice meets here Tuesday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and then also holds talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before traveling on to Rome for a Lebanon conference on Wednesday.

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