Attack 'endangers' peace

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The Independent Online
As the world watched in horror at the devastation inflicted by the Israelis on a UN peace-keeping camp, Russia launched into a diplomatic row with Israel last night accusing it of "seriously endangering" the Middle East peace process by mounting attacks on southern Lebanon.

The escalating hostilities between the two were "totally unacceptable", said a spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry, Mikhail Demurin, after learning that some 60 people had been killed by an Israeli shell.

"It is a path to nowhere. It seriously endangers the peace process," he said. He called on the Israelis to demonstrate restraint, although he also condemned "terrorist" attacks mounted against Israel.

The ministry's comments echoed remarks made by Yevgeny Primakov, President Boris Yeltsin's recently appointed Foreign Minister. Speaking on the eve of the opening of a Group of Seven summit on nuclear safety in Moscow, where the latest crisis is certain to be discussed, at the very least behind-the-scenes, Mr Primakov said that Israel's bombing of Lebanon, a "sovereign country", was "not appropriate".

Although Russia has itself been daily bombing Chechen villages, he condemned the Israeli assaults, adding that Russia opposed "all forms of terrorism". Moscow was willing to help find a solution to the Israel-Lebanon conflict, he said. A meeting of the UN Security Council will be called soon, at the request of Arab nations, to discuss the latest tragedy, he indicated.