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Condoleezza Rice Returning to Middle East


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is returning to the Middle East Saturday to seek support for a U.N. resolution to end the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

Rice is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before meeting with Lebanese officials.

Speaking on the flight to Israel from a meeting in Asia, Rice said she expected tough talks with officials from both sides, saying the matter is emotional and difficult. Rice also visited Beirut and Jerusalem earlier this week.

President Bush says Rice will use the trip to work toward an acceptable U.N. resolution for the Security Council to discuss when it begins talks Monday on a possible multinational force for southern Lebanon.

On Friday, Mr. Bush met at the White House with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and agreed that

such a force is needed to restore order and ensure delivery of humanitarian aid.

Both leaders have resisted international pressure to call for an immediate cease-fire, saying instead they want to focus on the long-term causes of violence in the region.

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

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