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Statement on Lebanon

This morning, Dawn Primarolo MP and Doug Naysmith MP met with young people from the Bristol Muslim Cultural Society to discuss the current situation in Lebanon. Kerry McCarthy MP was unable to attend, owing to longstanding commitments, but ensured that a representative was sent in her place.

Speaking after the meeting, Dawn said:

"I am very grateful to the Bristol Muslim Cultural Society for facilitating this important dialogue, during which the young people passionately expressed their deep concern at the bloodshed and their frustration at the response of the international community. I share, as do Doug and Kerry, their desire to see an urgent end to the fighting".

"We all accept that countries have the right to defend their lawful territories and to protect their peoples from attack. However, these responses need to be measured, conform to international law, and avoid civilian deaths and suffering. We share the serious concerns expressed about the number of deaths, casualties and displaced persons that have been caused as a result of this conflict".

"We entirely agree that was is needed is an immediate ceasefire - not least to allow the free movement of civilians away from the conflict and the dispersal of humanitarian supplies. Urgent discussion on this are taking place, and following this meeting we will press, once again, our Ministerial colleagues to work speedily to that end".

"Ultimately, though, the people in the region have lived in fear for far too long - since well before the current escalation of hostilities. If we are going to achieve a durable solution, and strengthen the forces of peace and democracy for the long-term, it is clear that the international community needs to renew its efforts to realise a viable Palestinian state alongside an Israel secure in its lawful borders".

[3 August 2006]

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