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Annan, Blair Call For International Forces In Lebanon

Blair (left) with Annan in St. Petersburg today (epa) July 17, 2006 -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are calling for the deployment of international forces in southern Lebanon to stop hostilities between Israel and Hizballah.

"The only way, in my view, we are going to get a cessation of hostilities is if we have the deployment of an international force into that area that can stop the bombardment coming over into Israel and therefore gives Israel the reason to stop its attacks on Hizballah," Blair told reporters after holding talks with Annan on the sidelines of the G8 summit in St. Petersburg.

"We need to get the parties to agree as soon as practicable to a cessation of hostilities to give us time and space to work" on the multinational force, Annan said after his meeting with Blair.

Annan also appealed to Israel to abide by international law and to spare civilian lives and infrastructure.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli government said today it is too early to talk about the deployment of an international force.

In a statement on July 16, G8 leaders blamed Hizballah and Hamas for the escalating violence and recognizing Israel's right to defend itself, although they called on Israel to show restraint.