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Bush Calls for Sustainable Mideast Peace


President Bush says America mourns the loss of life in the Lebanese village of Qana. The president says his goal is a sustained peace in the region.

President Bush says America sends its sympathies to the victims of the Qana bombing and all those who have suffered throughout this latest crisis in the Middle East.

In brief comments to reporters, the president said he will continue to press for a long term solution to the dispute between Israel and Lebanese-based Hezbollah militants. "The United States is resolved to work with the members of the United Nations Security Council to develop a resolution that will enable the region to have a sustainable peace, a peace that lasts, a peace that will enable mothers and fathers to raise their children in a hopeful world," he said.

Mr. Bush said he has discussed the latest developments in the region with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He also said he has been in frequent contact with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was in Israel when the attack on Qana occurred. "I have been in touch with Secretary of State Rice twice today. She will be returning tomorrow when she will brief" me on her discussions with leaders in the Middle East," he said.

The Secretary of State was supposed to go to both Israel and Lebanon during this latest round of Middle East diplomacy. But after the incident in Qana, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora made clear there was no reason for her to travel to Beirut unless she was willing to talk about an immediate ceasefire.

He was interviewed on the CBS television program Face the Nation. What we have really been witnessing is something beyond description. This is something that is unacceptable. That's why we are asking for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. We can not continue discussing under the sword of blood that is being put on our necks," he said.

Appearing on the same program, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres expressed deep regret for the death of civilians, including dozens of children, in Qana. He stressed Israel's fight is not with the Lebanese people, but with the Hezbollah militants who are using them for cover. "In the Israeli case, we distinguish between the military and the civilian. We shall never put arms in civilian surroundings. Hezbollah is very cynical. They put their rockets and missiles amid civilian lives," he said.

Earlier, the White House issued a statement urging Israel to exercise the utmost care to avoid civilian casualties. It made no mention of calls for an immediate cease-fire. Instead, the statement focused on the need for a solution that addresses the root causes of the conflict and removes the threat to Israel posed by armed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon

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