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From the Open-Publishing Newswire
UN rejects Lebanese call to intervene in conflict with Israel
The United Nations Security Council on Saturday again rejected pleas that it call for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon after the United States objected, diplomats said.
U.S. President George W. Bush on Sunday repeated that Israel had the right to defend itself in the Middle East, but did not back Lebanese calls for an immediate cease-fire.
"Our message to Israel is defend yourself but be mindful of the consequences, so we are urging restraint," said Bush, who has refused to call on Israel to halt its offensive on Lebanon.
French President Jacques Chirac called for a "show of moderation" in Lebanon, and said that a lasting cease-fire is needed.
He went on to say that forces threatening Lebanon's security and sovereignty must be stopped.
Speaking before heading into a bilateral meeting with Bush on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit, Chirac said he and Bush were in complete agreement that UN resolutions had to be applied, and that "all forces which threaten and endanger the security, stability and sovereignty of Lebanon must be stopped."
In closed-door talks the U.S. argued that the focus for Middle East diplomacy for now should be on the weekend summit in St. Petersburg of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, council diplomats said.
The U.S. was the sole member of the 15-nation UN body to oppose any council action at all at this time, they said.
"We would expect much more from the Security Council," Lebanese Foreign Ministry official Nouhad Mahmoud told reporters after the council meeting, singling out the U.S. for blame.