Sunday, July 16, 2006

Iran and Syria to blame, says Blair

The Guardian:
Prime Minister Tony Blair has blamed Iran and Syria for the latest flare-up in the Middle East. Speaking after talks with the US president George Bush Mr Blair insisted they and fellow leaders would "work very hard to find a common and unified position" on the crisis in their talks at the G8 summit in St Petersburg.

Mr Blair told reporters: "Sometimes there's been a hesitation in putting the real truth of the situation up there in front of people.

"The fact is there are people in that region, notably Iran and Syria, who do not want this process of democratisation and peace and negotiation to succeed." READ MORE

He went on: "I think everyone's going to work very hard to find a common and unified position.

"We all want the situation to calm down and we want it to calm down because we urgently have to act to protect Lebanese democracy and to re-engage people in the negotiating process.

"The question is, how do we calm it down - the only way we are going to get this situation calmed is if we address the reasons why the situation has arisen and the basic reasons are that there are extremists who want to end the process that could lead to the two-state solution."

Mr Blair's comments came after Israel began its latest bombing blitz on Lebanon in retaliation for the kidnap of two of its soldiers and rocket attacks launched against from southern Lebanon.

Mr Blair said he was optimistic of reaching agreement on the issue at the G8 summit.

He said: "We should be able to agree a position here and I think it would be a good signal to send out to the world if we can agree a position here."