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G8 leaders divided on Middle East conflict

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G8 leaders divided on Middle East conflict

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At the G8 summit in St.Petersburg, world leaders have taken differing positions on the Middle East crisis. While the US refuses to tell Israel to halt its bombardment, France and the EU have called Israel’s response excessive. The Russian President Vladimir Putin went further. “We condemn all terrorist acts that involve kidnapping people but our impression is that, aside from seeking to return the abducted soldiers, Israel is pursuing wider goals.”

Diplomats at the summit have begun work on a statement on the crisis. France wants it to say that violence will not resolve the situation but that formulation is at odds with President George Bush’s strong support for Israel. Britain’s Tony Blair says the situation needs calming down and quickly. The Italian prime minister Romano Prodi, meanwhile, has said he doubts a common G8 position can be agreed. Away from the diplomatic action, Russian police cracked down on Communist and anti-globalisation protesters in St.Petersburg city centre. Fifteen activists were detained.