Wed, Aug 16, 2006 - Page 6 News List

US President Bush declares Hezbollah the loser in Lebanon

DPA , WASHINGTON

US President George W. Bush declared Hezbollah the loser on Monday in the month-long fight with Israel in southern Lebanon and again blamed the militant group for the outbreak of the conflict.

"Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis," Bush said after meeting with his national security team on Monday at the State Department in Washington.

"How can you claim victory when, at one time, you were a state within a state, safe within southern Lebanon, and now you're going to be replaced by a Lebanese army and an international force?" he said.

A UN ceasefire went into effect early on Monday to halt the violence, which has claimed more than 1,000 lives. The conflict began on July 12 when Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers at the Lebanese border.

The UN Security Council has authorized an expanded peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon with the aim of forging a long-term peace.

The resolution is "an important step forward that will help bring an end to the violence," Bush said.

Bush said it was essential that the international community both support the democratic government in Beirut and insist on the disarming of Hezbollah, which wields massive influence in Lebanon.

"We recognize that responsibility for this suffering lies with Hezbollah," he said.

Bush said that Iran and Syria must end all support for the Shiite Muslim militia.

Meanwhile, the State Department said that Washington wants to see an international force deployed to stabilize southern Lebanon "as quickly as possible."

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