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Middle East dominates G8 summit
Archana Masih in St Petersburg | July 17, 2006 20:24 IST
Chirac -- whose predecessor, then French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing, sowed the seeds for what would become G8 or the Group of Eight countries -- said linking the G8 summit with the current situation in the Middle East was taking things too far.
The situation in Israel and Lebanon dominated the media interaction with British Prime Minister Tony Blair as well.
The G8 leaders have expressed concern about the situation in the Middle East, particularly the rising civilian casualties, and offered full support for the United Nations secretary general's mission in the region.
They said it was critical that Israel, while exercising the right to defend itself, be mindful of the strategic and humanitarian consequences of its actions.
The G8 leaders urged Israel to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid casualties among innocent citizens.
The leaders felt urgent priority must be accorded to create conditions for a cessation of violence that would be sustainable and lay the foundation for a more permanent solution to the Middle East problem.
That, in their judgment, required the return of Israeli soldiers held captive in Gaza and Lebanon unharmed, the end of the shelling of Israeli territory, the end of Israeli military operations and the early withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from Gaza.
The framework for resolving this dispute was already established by international consensus, they said, adding that their goal was an immediate end to the current violence and resumption of security cooperation and political engagement.
The leaders said they extended their support to the government of Lebanon to assert its sovereign authority over all its territory and the deployment of Lebanese armed forces, particularly in the south, and disarming of militias.