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World Leaders Repeat Call for Peace in Middle East


Hezbollah guerrillas Wednesday fired a record number of rockets into Israel. Israel commandos raided the militant group's strongholds deep inside Lebanon. Top officials from around the world continue to hold meetings to discuss an end to the conflict.

The European Union has called on Israel and Hezbollah to end hostilities. It says the group's 25 nations could play key roles in an international force in southern Lebanon. It has not directly called for a formal ceasefire.

British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett says the wording does not give Israel the go-ahead to continue its attacks in southern Lebanon. "There was a call all the way through for the European Union to be united and effective in getting action to stop the hostilities and to prevent more deaths in the Middle East."

French Foreign Minister Phillippe Douste-Blazy says after the hostilities end the EU will work toward an agreement that will allow a durable ceasefire.

Foreign Ministers from Jordan, Egypt and Spain visited Lebanon Wednesday. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said, "There has to be an immediate ceasefire. It we have this immediate ceasefire, we can work on all the political elements."

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus. They also are calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. They say the Lebanese people should resist what they called Israeli aggression in Lebanon.

At the United Nations in New York, a meeting of nations that could contribute troops to stabilize south Lebanon was postponed. The group said it is premature to talk about deploying peacekeepers before a peace plan is finalized between Israel and Hezbollah.

John Bolton is the United States Ambassador to the U.N. He characterized the situation for reporters. "There are differences in approach to the nature of the cessation of hostilities and how to make it permanent, but there is complete agreement about the fundamental political framework that has to be put in place."

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says his country will stop fighting when an international force is put in southern Lebanon.

"We can't stop it before it because there will not be a presence of a very effective, robust military international force. Hezbollah will be there and we will have achieved nothing,” said the Israeli leader. “Therefore, this is really the most important significant line where from we can think of a ceasefire."

He also says the release of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah must be unconditional.

Relief aid has resumed in southern Lebanon, after Israel and Hezbollah guaranteed safe passage. But now fuel is a problem says Cassandra Nelson with the humanitarian group, Mercy Corps. "We have our cars stand in line for hours and hours just to get a full tank of gas, so we can actually get out in the field and help the people in desperate need," she said.

To alleviate the problem, the World Food Program says two tankers will deliver fuel to the Lebanese government, which will be responsible for its distribution.

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