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G8 unites to blame 'extremists' and calls for end of violence
Long and arduous negotiations ended last night with an unexpected display of unity by the world's eight most powerful nations over how to handle the Middle East conflict, as they called for an end to the cross-border attacks that have left more than 150 people dead in five days.
The Group of Eight, meeting in St Petersburg, issued a call for both Israel and the "extremist forces" of Hamas and Hizbollah to halt their attacks, and for an additional UN security and monitoring force to move in to keep the peace in Lebanon when the Israelis pull out.
The statement called for attacks on Israel to end "immediately", and implied that Israel is entitled to retaliate if they continue.
George Bush and Tony Blair pulled off a coup by persuading Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, and France's Jacques Chirac to sign up to a statement that blamed the violence squarely on "extremists" on the Palestinian side.
The document also avoided using the word "ceasefire", which is what the Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, has pleaded for, with President Chirac's support. The US and Britain maintained that there cannot be a ceasefire which leaves Israel open to renewed attack. One concession by Mr Bush and Mr Blair is that there is no mention either of Iran and Syria, whom the two leaders identified as culprits in the Lebanon tragedy.