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Israel sees a statement on the Middle East adopted by the Group of Eight industrialized nations as a potential basis to settle the Lebanon crisis
Israel sees a statement on the Middle East adopted by the Group of Eight industrialized nations as a potential basis to settle the Lebanon crisis, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. At the July 15-17 summit near St. Petersburg G8 leaders adopted the statement calling on Hizbollah to release two soldiers taken hostage and to end the shelling of Israeli territory, while also urging Israel to halt its offensive against Hizbollah targets in Lebanon. They proposed that the U.N. Security Council consider an international security and monitoring presence on the Lebanon-Israel border. And after Alexander Saltanov, deputy foreign minister of Russia, held talks with senior officials in Tel Aviv Monday, the ministry said Israel took the view that the G8 plan had potential, particularly with regard to the conflict in Lebanon. "In this connection, Saltanov emphasized that efforts to defuse the Lebanese-Israeli situation should be conducted in parallel with measures to end the standoff on the Palestinian territories to provide favorable grounds for resuming a search for a comprehensive Middle East resolution, including in the Syrian dimension," the ministry said. Saltanov held meetings with First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Perez, and also held consultations in the Israel's Foreign Ministry, the ministry said. A source close to the talks said Saltanov had told Israeli officials about the position Russia would take at an international conference on Lebanon, to be held in Rome Wednesday, and about the results of his trip to Syria and Jordan last week. The source also said the sides had also exchanged their views on Palestinian group Hamas, but declined to give details. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday the conference in Rome would focus on deploying peacekeepers to the conflict zone. The foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Italy, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as well as representatives of the UN, European Union and the World Bank will attend the conference. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as part of her own Middle Eastern tour. More than 350 people are thought to have died in Lebanon since Israel launched military action 13 days ago after Islamic militant group Hizbollah captured two Israeli servicemen in a cross-border raid. At least 600,000 people are though to have fled the fighting. In all, 40 Israelis are also believed to have also lost their lives.
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