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EU Calls for Immediate End of Hostilities Between Israel, Hezbollah


European foreign ministers holding an emergency meeting in Brussels called for an immediate end to clashes in the Middle East. The European Union's failure to call for a full cease-fire reflects divisions in the 25-member bloc.

A statement following talks in Brussels calls for an immediate end to hostilities in Lebanon to be followed by a sustainable cease-fire. That statement is a reportedly a watered-down version of an earlier draft statement that called for a more immediate cease-fire.

News reports suggest otherwise. Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country heads the rotating EU presidency, also rejected suggestions that Israel would take the statement as a green light to continue its bombing campaign in Lebanon.

"The most important thing is that no weapons will be fired. No people will be under fire. This is the most important thing," Tuomioja says.

EU external Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the European Union has also earmarked another $50 million in humanitarian aid for Lebanon.

"We also need access. We need humanitarian corridors. We need the possibilities to exit and enter the country," Ferrero-Waldner said.

Europe is not just divided over calling for a cease-fire. A number of European countries are reportedly reluctant to contribute troops to a possible peacekeeping mission. Some, like France, are also worried that violence in the Middle East could spark unrest among their ethnic Arab and Muslim populations at home.

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