G8 leaders ended Sunday’s talks in St. Petersburg calling on Hezbollah to free captured Israeli soldiers and to halt attacks on Israel immediately. They called on Israel to exercise “utmost restraint”. They blamed the crisis squarely on “extremist elements”. Their statement made no reference to criticism by the EU that Israel’s bombing of Lebanon was excessive.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked if world leaders had mixed up cause and effect in their response to the Middle East crisis. “I do not think,” he said, “that we have confused things in this way. There are no circumstances in which you can kidnap people or launch missiles from the territory of one nation to another.”
With the G8 summit now in its second and last day, leaders face a packed agenda including trade talks and a possible statement on world oil prices. One issue, aid to Africa, which topped the agenda last year, will be discussed in a session attended by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.