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Former US President Urges Lebanon, Israel to Work Toward Peace

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has urged Lebanon and Israel to work towards peace.

Mr. Carter spoke during a visit Wednesday to the headquarters of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, or UNIFIL, in the Lebanese border town of Naqoura.

In a statement released by UNIFIL, Mr. Carter said the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers near the Israel-Lebanon border - together with Lebanese troops - have helped create a new sense of security in southern Lebanon.

The former U.S. leader traveled to Lebanon to assess whether his non-profit Carter Center will monitor the country's parliamentary elections set for next June. He has said he will meet with political leaders during his trip.

Mr. Carter travels next to Syria. During a visit there last year, Israel and the United States criticized him for meeting with Khaled Mashaal, the exiled leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

While in Lebanon, Mr. Carter met with UNIFIL's commander, Major General Claudio Graziano, and took a helicopter tour of the area.

The 13,000-member U.N. force was deployed after the one-month war in 2006 between Israel and the Lebanese-based Islamic militant group Hezbollah. The fighting killed about 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and nearly 160 Israelis.

Separately on Wednesday, the British government eased its warning against travel to Lebanon. It cited the improving security situation in Lebanon.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.