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French PM, FM to Beirut Monday
by Kuna (reposted)
Monday Jul 17th, 2006 4:22 AM
ARIS, July 17 (KUNA) -- French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy are traveling to Beirut on Monday to express the solidarity of France with the Lebanese government and people, it was officially announced here.
The mission was ordered by President Jacques Chirac who has expressed criticism of the Israeli overreaction to Hezbollah attacks against Israeli military forces, attacks that sparked the latest round of violence.

Chirac, who has also criticized Hezbollah and called for the release of the two Israeli soldiers taken prisoner a week ago by the Lebanese resistance group, said last Friday that the Israeli reaction was "completely disproportionate" and he said he wondered if Israel was not bent on destroying Lebanon.

Chirac has also questioned the ability of Lebanon to function as a sovereign state, given the existence of armed militias like Hezbollah.

Such groups are destined to be disarmed and dismantled in line with UN Resolution 1559, which led to the departure of Syrian forces from Lebanon.

France is expected to begin evacuating nationals and dual nationals Monday from Lebanon and a ferry has been sent from Cyprus for this purpose. Planes have also been chartered to take evacuees back to France from Cyprus and some people who managed to get out have already been brought back to France.

by more
Monday Jul 17th, 2006 4:23 AM
France is today sending Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin to Beirut to express support for Lebanon, President Jacques Chirac’s office said.

The prime minister was to meet with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora to express support and solidarity from the French to the Lebanese, Chirac’s office said in a statement made in St Petersburg, Russia, on the side of the G8 Summit.]

On Friday, President Jacques Chirac said that the IDF's actions in Lebanon were "totally disproportionate" and asked whether destroying Lebanon was not the ultimate goal.

"One could ask if today there is not a sort of will to destroy Lebanon, its equipment, its roads, its communication," Chirac said during an interview in the garden of the presidential Elysee Palace to mark Bastille Day, the French national holiday.