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Friday, 6 July, 2001, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Envoys discuss Lebanon tension
Syrian radar station on Bekaa plain, Lebanon
The border is extremely tense
By Kim Ghattas in Beirut

Russia, the European Union and the United States have all sent their Middle East envoys to Lebanon to discuss the mounting tension in the region.

The envoys are expected to hold talks with Lebanese President Emile and Prime Minister Rafik Hariri as well as the speaker of the house and minister of foreign affairs.

The visits come amid fears of a further escalation of the violence on the border between Lebanon and Israel, and involving Syria.

In their first statements to the press, the diplomats called for peace in the region and said they were in Lebanon to find solutions to the deteriorating situation.

But most observers in Lebanon believe the diplomatic flurry is an attempt to delay a regional war that they see as inevitable.

Cycle of violence

The Head of Russia's Foreign Ministry Middle East Department Andrei Vdovin, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, William Burns, and European envoy to the Middle East Miguel Angel Moratinos arrived in Lebanon on Thursday.

Israeli self-propelled gun
Israeli forces shelled the border area on Sunday
On Sunday, an Israeli air raid destroyed a Syrian position in Eastern Lebanon.

Earlier Lebanese Shi'ite guerrilla organisation, Hezbollah had attacked an Israeli position in a disputed piece of land on the border with Israel.

In April an Israeli air raid also destroyed a Syrian radar position in Lebanon.

There was no further escalation at the time, as Syria refrained from retaliating.

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See also:

29 Jun 01 | Middle East
Israel 'stops' Lebanon overflights
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Israel downs Lebanese plane
24 May 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Lebanon one year on
30 Jul 00 | Middle East
UN spreads out on Lebanon border
26 May 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Lebanon's fragile peace
23 May 00 | Middle East
Q & A: Leaving Lebanon
16 Apr 01 | Middle East
Syria: The power in Lebanon
25 May 00 | Middle East
In focus: Shebaa farms
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