Bush defends Israeli attacks in Lebanon

(AP) - President Bush strongly defended Israel's attacks in Lebanon on Thursday but worried they could weaken or topple the fragile government in Beirut. The Mideast violence exposed divisions between the United States and allies and raised fears of a widening war.

"Israel has a right to defend herself," Bush said at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "Every nation must defend herself against terrorist attacks and the killing of innocent life."

Merkel appealed for restraint by all sides and said it was up to the militant group Hezbollah to defuse the situation, triggered by its cross-border raid from Lebanon into Israel and the capture of two Israeli soldiers. She called the violence a "very disturbing situation" that "fills us with concern."

The Mideast eruption came at an awkward time for Bush. His strong support of Israel put him at odds with European Union allies two days before a summit of world leaders in Russia, where the United States is counting on a united stand against Iran's nuclear ambitions and North Korea's long-range missile test. The violence also presented Bush with yet another crisis in the Middle East, along with the Iraq war and the Iran standoff, reports Trend.

Ten hours after Bush's statement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a news conference and emphasized that Israel should exercise restraint to avoid civilian casualties and damage. She had spent much of the day in telephone diplomacy with Mideast leaders.

"The point about restraint, I think, has been taken by our Israeli colleagues," she said.

Rice declined to criticize Israel for its attacks on the Beirut airport and other targets. "I'm not going to try to judge every single act," she told reporters. She said there was considerable concern about the Mideast, with Israel fighting both in the Gaza and on the Lebanese border, but she refused to address fears of a wider war.

"It doesn't help to speculate on kind of apocalyptic scenarios," she said.

Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley voiced concern that the violence would hurt Lebanon's fledgling, democratic government. Rice said that government presented the best opportunity in three decades for democracy and a reduction of Syrian influence.

"This is one more challenge they do not need," Hadley said. He said the United States was asking other nations in the Middle East particularly Egypt to put pressure on Hezbollah to free the Israeli captives.

"Ultimately the best chance for peace will be democracy in Lebanon and the Syrian forces are out and remain out," Rice said.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was sending three officials to the Middle East to try to defuse what he described as a major crisis. "What we should all do right now," Rice said, "is to focus on how to make the secretary-general's efforts a success."

Earlier in the day, Bush was welcomed to Merkel's home district in what once was communist East Germany with a ceremonial barrel of pickled herring, a Baltic delicacy. Later at dinner, he cut several slices from the rib area of a wild boar that turned slowly on a spit when he arrived for a barbecue in nearby Trinwillershagen.

Anti-Bush demonstrators were kept far away, but one protester from the Greenpeace environmental group managed to climb high in the clock tower of St. Nicholas Church overlooking Old Market Square where the president was welcomed. The protester displayed a yellow "No War, No Nukes, No Bush" banner from a window but it was gone by the time Bush appeared minutes later.

With Iran delaying its answer to a Western offer of incentives to shelve its nuclear program, Bush said he wanted the summit to send Tehran a message "loud and clear: We're not kidding, it's a serious issue, the world is united in insisting that you not have a nuclear weapons program."

Bush and Merkel said it was not too late for Iran to avoid possible penalties as the U.N. Security Council prepares to take up its case. "They can show up any time and say, wait a minute, now we'd like to go back and negotiate," Bush said. Merkel said: "The door has not been closed."

Among allies, there was disagreement with Bush about Israel's attacks, which included air strikes on Beirut's airport and two Lebanese army air bases near the Syrian border. The European Union criticized Israel for using "disproportionate" force and said Israel's naval blockade of supply routes to Lebanon was unjustified.

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the Israeli air campaign its heaviest against Lebanon in 24 years could "plunge Lebanon back into the worst years of the war with the flight of thousands of Lebanese who ... were in the process of rebuilding their country."

Bush, at the news conference, voiced fears about the survival of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora's government. "The concern is that any activities by Israel to protect herself will weaken that government ... or topple that government. And we've made it clear in our discussions.

"Having said all that," Bush continued, "people need to protect themselves. There are terrorists who will blow up innocent people in order to achieve tactical objectives."

Bush arrives in Moscow on Friday and will have dinner with President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders also will meet Saturday before the opening of the eight-nation summit of industrial powers.

Bush and Merkel said they would raise concerns with Putin that Russia is backsliding on democracy and human rights. But the president laughed off Putin's slap at Vice President Dick Cheney for his criticism of Russia's behavior. Putin, in an interview broadcast Wednesday, called Cheney's remark "an unsuccessful hunting shot" referring to Cheney's accidental wounding of a hunting companion in February.

"It was pretty clever," Bush said of Putin. "It was quite humorous not to dis my friend the vice president."

Iran Atomic Energy Organization to enrich stable isotopes in cooperation with Russia
Iran Atomic Energy Organization to enrich stable isotopes in cooperation with Russia
Construction of Iran's Bushehr NPP decelerates
Construction of Iran's Bushehr NPP decelerates
Iran building more advanced nuclear facilities in Natanz
Iran building more advanced nuclear facilities in Natanz
Loading Bars
Uzbekistan to include goods and services in Unified Electronic Catalog
Kazakhstan's oil & gas company opens tender to buy filter blocks
Azerbaijani Central Bank unveils number of borrowers with restructured loans
Georgia sees increase in COVID-19 cases
Production started at Uzbek gas condensate field
Japan, Uzbekistan to increase tourist flow between countries
Turkmen Ministry of Construction to purchase equipment from Italian company
Kazakhstan, Russia agree to resume mutual flights
Turkmenistan, Ukraine discuss trade, economic cooperation
Iranian currency rates for September 19
Number of coronavirus cases in Uzbekistan pass 50,000
Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 36 times
Australia COVID-19 hotspot records fewest cases since June
Turkey summons Greek envoy over expletive headline against Erdoğan
E3 says Iran sanctions relief to continue beyond Sep. 20
Georgia sends armored medical evacuation vehicles to Indonesia
65 new COVID-19 infections reported in Kazakhstan over past day
UN, Kazakhstan intend substantially contribute to environmental resilience (INTERVIEW)
Japan's new PM Suga to meet with Pompeo in October
Chinese mainland reports 14 new imported COVID-19 cases
Brazil's COVID-19 death toll tops 135,000
French finance minister tests positive for COVID-19
Trump says he sees no reason to delay TikTok decision
Eleven more coronavirus patients die in Moscow in past day
Qatar reports 224 new COVID-19 cases, 122,917 in total
Kazakhstan's crude oil exports to India surge in 1H2020
Georgia to acquire 135 000 doses of flu vaccines in October
Istanbul introduces alternate working hours for public servants amid COVID-19 pandemic
Kazakhstan launches programming learning platform
UK PM Johnson says second wave of virus inevitable, new restrictions possible
Israel's daily new COVID-19 death cases hit record high
Iran, Russia stress promoting scientific, technological coop.
Kazakh company looking to establish medical cannabis production
Azerbaijan’s Baku to hold World Cups in three gymnastic disciplines in 2021
Georgia increases export of apples
Data on cargo movement from Albania via Turkish ports revealed
Deputy PM: 'Contract of the Century' - special among grandiose events in Azerbaijan's history
Minister: Azerbaijan - integral part of global energy security system
Spanish capital region orders partial lockdown in some COVID-hit areas
COVID-19 kills 144 more Iranians over past 24 hours
Representatives of Azerbaijani Karabakh community meet with ambassadors of several countries
Azerbaijan on Kazakhstan's list of 'safe' countries in terms of COVID-19 threat
Data on industrial production of Uzbekistan for January through August 2020
Net profit of Georgian insurance companies increases
Azerbaijan preparing proposals to develop hazelnut growth
Central Bank of Azerbaijan announces slow post-COVID economic recovery
Azerbaijan’s mining, IT companies sign tender contract
Georgian finance minister elected chairman of ADB board of governors
Baku Stock Exchange includes AzerGold's bonds in listing
Baku holds video conference entitled "Heritage of Caucasian Albania" (VIDEO)
Clients of Azerbaijan's bankrupt Standard Insurance receive compensations
Georgia continues projects of Winter resort in Gudauri
Turkish cement in great demand in Turkmenistan’s construction markets
Azerbaijani MP: Armenia's draft law on so-called "genocide" aims to deceive world community
Azerbaijani oil prices continue to grow
ENKA Renewables: Namakhvani HPP Cascade project to have substantial impact on property tax
BMB Trade Group develops project for livestock complex in Uzbekistan
U.S. current account deficit surges 52.9% in second quarter
Companies reserving capacity in IGB disclosed
Gold, silver prices in Azerbaijan rebound
Requirements to oil&gas service companies to be revised in Kazakhstan
Turkmenistan working to improve transport, customs systems
Firefighter dies in California wildfire - U.S. Forest Service
IGB to start commercial operations by July 2021
Germany to send observers for Georgia’s parliamentary elections
Iran expected to launch neobanks by 2021
S.Korean, Azerbaijani officials discuss healthcare co-op
Number of gas consumers increased in Turkmenistan’s Lebap region
Rami Levy said mulling withdrawal from Delek Israel deal
Azerbaijani economy ministry: Digitalization - important component of economic dev't
Azerbaijan confirms 135 more COVID-19 recoveries
Baku International Energy Charter Forum to be held online
Azerbaijan's oil pumping through BTC pipeline shrinks
International tourism restrictions to be canceled in Uzbekistan
Azerbaijani president congratulates president of Nepal
Sulfur production increases in Kazakhstan in Aug, 2020
Russia to invest in modernization of power generation field of Uzbekistan
Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan in talks on gas exports
Minister: Georgia moving towards period of adaptation
Average daily volume of gas production at Turkmenistan’s Uchaji field revealed
Azerbaijan Deposit Insurance Fund continues compensating depositors of closed banks
Azerbaijan raises propylene production
Georgia sees increase in hazelnuts exports
Pumps producer terminates memorandum with Kazakhstan's largest oil pipeline company
Kazakh coal extracting venture opens tender to buy vehicles
Iran's industrial production increases
French imports of leather goods from Turkey down
Georgia imports more steel from Turkey
Volume of delivered oil at Turkmenbashi Oil Refinery published
Azerbaijan unveils timeframe for commissioning road to highest mountainous village
Central Bank of Azerbaijan lowers interest rate
Azerbaijani ambassador talks Armenia's military provocation against Azerbaijan in popular US radio show
Iran and Pakistan discuss trade between border provinces
PETRONAS's upstream volumes to fall by about 4%
Ryanair cuts October capacity, blames travel restrictions
BMB Trade Group eyes to expand export products of Uzbekistan
“My Bakcell” – the ultimate solution for managing your account
EBRD to back up solar plant construction in Kazakhstan’s Karaganda
Kazakh Ministry of Ecology talks restrictions in industry sector
Georgia reveals volume of exported peaches and nectarines
All news