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Top Shi'ite Cleric Opposes Blair Visit to Beirut


Lebanon's top Shi'ite cleric is opposing British Prime Minister Tony Blair's expected visit to Beirut Monday.

Mr. Blair is visiting the region to support peace efforts, saying the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah militants represents a window of opportunity for progress.

On Sunday, Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah said Mr. Blair is not welcome in Beirut because of his support for Israel and the United States. The cleric said Mr. Blair should have demanded a quick cease-fire to end hostilities.

Tight security and protests are expected in the Lebanese capital during Mr. Blair's visit.

The British leader travels to Beirut from Israel, where Palestinian and Israeli leaders pledged to revive stalled peace talks.

A date for a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has not been set.

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