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Work for peace, Bush urges Syria

Washington, July 28 (Reuters): President George W. Bush today urged Syria to become an active participant for peace in West Asia.

Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were asked at a joint news conference their message to both Iran and Syria. Bush said Iran needs to give up its nuclear ambitions and as for Syria, he said: “My message to Syria is: Become an active participant in the neighbourhood for peace.”

Blair said both countries should either participate as responsible members of the international community “or they will face the risk of increasing confrontation.”

After talks with Blair, Bush said that an international force should be sent quickly into southern Lebanon to secure shipments of humanitarian aid. Blair said a UN resolution was needed as soon as possible to end hostilities.

“We share the same urgency to stop the violence,” said Bush, with Blair at his side in the White House East Room. The US is sending secretary of state Condoleezza Rice back to West Asia tomorrow for talks on a UN resolution to end the 17-day war between Israel and Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas.

“Her instructions are to work with Israel and Lebanon to come up with an acceptable UN Security Council resolution that we can table next week,” the US President said.

Bush and Blair met at the White House after a day that saw Israeli forces kill at least 14 people in Lebanon and Hizbollah launch new longer-range missiles at Israel.

The war, which has caused at least 459 deaths in Lebanon and 51 in Israel, erupted after Hizbollah seized two Israeli soldiers in a raid into Israel on July 12. Israel wants the Shia group to be driven from the border and disarmed.

Today, aircraft repeatedly bombed villages near Lebanon’s southern port of Tyre and Israeli artillery fired hundreds of rounds across the border, killing 10 people.

Four people were killed in about 70 air strikes in the eastern Bekaa Valley, Lebanese security sources said. And an Israeli military source said three Hizbollah guerrillas were killed in the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil.

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