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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
NI 'can relate to Lebanon crisis'
Jim Nicolson
Jim Nicholson says NI people can relate to the Middle East
Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has said he believes it is important the European Union is involved in finding a resolution to the crisis in Lebanon.

Mr Nicholson is travelling to Brussels on Tuesday to attend an emergency session of the European Parliament.

It comes as the Israeli cabinet agreed to widen the country's ground offensive against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

Mr Nicholson said people in Northern Ireland could relate to the situation in the Middle East.

"People in Northern Ireland have probably come through and suffered as much as many other parts of the world who have suffered this type of situation through terrorism," he said.

"I would expect that a lot of people in Northern Ireland could identify with the suffering of the innocent, the people who are caught in the crossfire."

He added: "My experience of dealing with the scourge of terrorism in Northern Ireland helps to shape my feelings on this issue.

"(It) helps me to understand why it is so important that Hezbollah, as the root cause of the problem, must be removed and the Lebanese government helped to complete their journey towards democracy."

'Kidnapped soldiers'

In the latest fighting, Israeli war planes struck eastern Lebanon, Lebanese officials said.

Earlier, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ruled out an immediate truce, saying Israel would continue its offensive as long as its security was threatened.

Mr Olmert also reiterated calls for the release of the two Israeli soldiers seized by Hezbollah - whose capture in a cross-border raid sparked the conflict on 12 July.

Israel has been attempting to establish what it calls a "security zone" there, to push Hezbollah back from the border.

Israeli radio also reported that the government was planning to call up thousands more reservists.

On Tuesday, Lebanese security officials said Israeli planes had launched fresh strikes, targeting the road linking north east Lebanon and Syria.

The build-up of Israeli forces on the border

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