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Bush, Blair Say Multinational Force, Long-Term Solution Needed in Mideast

  • VOA News

President Bush says he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have agreed that a multinational force should be deployed in Lebanon.

The leaders say the goals would be to augment the Lebanese army in an effort to restore order to southern Lebanon. The force would also help to deliver humanitarian aid to those affected by fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair met at the White House on Friday to discuss a number of issues, but the Middle East crisis topped the agenda.

Both leaders said they believe in taking the opportunity to address long-term causes of violence in the region.

They emphasized the need to support Lebanon's government in an effort to get what Mr. Bush called "full authority" over its territory.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will return to the Middle East Saturday. Mr. Blair said she will seek agreement from Israel and Lebanon on a package of proposals.

Mr. Bush said the United Nations Security Council is set to meet next week to discuss the possibility of deploying a stabilization force to Lebanon.

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