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Archive for Monday, September 4, 2006

Italian troops deploy; peace talks rejected

September 4, 2006

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— Italian soldiers moved into southern Lebanon in trucks and armored vehicles Sunday as the first big wave of international peacekeepers took up positions to monitor a shaky truce between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas. Lebanese officials scoffed at an Israeli call for peace talks .

Israeli security officials said they expect the army to be out of Lebanese territory within the next two weeks, when they decide whether sufficient U.N. forces have arrived in south Lebanon to enforce the truce.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, did not specify when Israel would plan to lift its air and sea blockade.

The timetable for a pullout coincided with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's call for peace talks. "How natural, how understandable it would be for the prime minister of Lebanon to respond to the many calls I have made toward him and say, 'Come on, let's sit, shake hands, make peace and end once and for all the hostility, the jealousy, the hatred that some of my people have toward you,"' Olmert said while touring a school in northern Israel.

"I hope this day comes soon. I yearn for it," said Olmert.

Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi responded angrily and quickly.

"Let him dream on. He will never see the day," Aridi said.

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