Group of Eight leaders meeting in Russia say attacks on Israel by extremists must stop and Israel should halt military action. The Mideast crisis dominated the G8 talks in St. Petersburg. The leaders issued a statement Sunday demanding Hezbollah and Palestinian factions safely return kidnapped Israeli soldiers. It says extremists are trying to destabilize the region, frustrating peace efforts, and threatening to plunge the region into wider chaos.
The statement also calls on Israel to free all Palestinian lawmakers and ministers. It says Israel has the right to self-defense, but must be mindful of the strategic and humanitarian consequences of its actions.
Summit host and Russian President Vladimir Putin calls the G8 statement balanced. He also said enforcement of U.N. resolution 1559, which calls on all foreign forces to leave Lebanon and strict respect for Lebanese territorial integrity, is a condition for a settlement. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said she welcomes the G8 statement blaming extremists for the current violence. She said Israel believes freeing the kidnapped soldiers, ending Hezbollah attacks, and fully implementing 1559 is the path to a solution of the crisis.