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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 July 2006, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
In quotes: Lebanon reaction
Israeli troops fire artillery shells in southern Lebanon
Israel has launched a broad military operation in Lebanon
Israel has imposed a military blockade on Lebanon and launched a series of missile strikes and cross-border raids in response to the capture of two soldiers by militant group Hezbollah.

Key international and regional powers have been responding to the escalating conflict.

US PRESIDENT GEORGE W BUSH

My attitude is this. There are a group of terrorists who want to stop the advance of peace. And those of us who are peace-loving must work together to help the agents of peace - Israel, President Abbas, and others - to achieve their objective.

Israel has the right to defend herself. [But] whatever Israel does should not weaken the government in Lebanon. We have been working very hard through the UN and partners to strengthen democracy in Lebanon.

Syria must be held to account. President Assad needs to show some leadership towards peace.

EUROPEAN UNION STATEMENT

The European Union is greatly concerned about the disproportionate use of force by Israel in Lebanon in response to attacks by Hezbollah on Israel. The presidency deplores the loss of civilian lives and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The imposition of an air and sea blockade on Lebanon cannot be justified.

AMIR PERETZ, ISRAELI DEFENCE MINISTER

We will not allow Hezbollah to return to the positions it occupied along the border before the soldiers were abducted. Only the Lebanese army should operate in this area and deploy forces. If the Lebanese government does not deploy its armed forces as a sovereign government should, we will not allow Hezbollah forces to move again onto the other side of the border.

We will no longer put up with a terrorist organisation threatening residents in northern Israel with the support of a sovereign government.

SAMI KHIYAMI, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UK

We have good contacts with them [Hezbollah] but after all, they have occupied territory, they have prisoners in the Israeli prisons and they have aspirations that we have to respect. So we contact them. We tell them to calm down, to come to terms. But the Israelis have on their side to stop the state terrorism on the one hand and to come to the negotiation table, whether direct or indirect, with these people in order to release the prisoners of both sides.

ABOUL GHEIT, EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER

Targeting civilians under the pretext of fighting terrorism is unacceptable and unjustified. Israeli practices violate international law. We condemn any military action that targets civilians. We consider it a terrorist act, regardless of who the civilians are or its source.

JORDANIAN GOVERNMENT STATEMENT

Jordan stands against whoever exposes the Palestinian people and their cause, Lebanon and its sovereignty to unexpected dangers. Israel's use of force against unarmed civilians and the outcome in terms of the human loss and destruction of civil institutions.

RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT STATEMENT

One cannot justify the continued destruction by Israel of the civilian infrastructure in Lebanon and in Palestinian territory, involving the disproportionate use of force in which the civilian population suffers.

We firmly reaffirm support for Lebanon's sovereignty and territorial integrity. All forms of terrorism are completely unacceptable. All sides involved in the current events should take rapid measures to stop the region sliding into open conflict.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR

We call on the powers in the region to seek to bring about a de-escalation of the situation. We cannot confuse cause and effect. The starting point is the capture of the Israeli soldiers.

It is important that the government in Lebanon, which is on a peaceful path, should be strengthened, but it must be made clear that the capture [of the soldiers] cannot be tolerated. The attacks did not start from the Israeli side, but from Hezbollah's side.

PHILIPPE DOUSTE-BLAZY, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER

We obviously condemn this disproportionate act of war, which moreover has two consequences. The first is that it forces anyone who wants to enter Lebanon from now on to go either by sea or via Syria. The second consequence is that it risks plunging Lebanon back into the worst years of the war.

Today there is a risk of a very dangerous spiral of violence which could destabilise the entire region.






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