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Thursday July 27, 2006

US should tell Israel to stop bombings

KUALA LUMPUR: THE United States should step in to stop the bombings in Lebanon by Israel, which has now killed United Nations observers, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar. 

“The US has the greatest influence on Israel. They must convey to Israel to stop the bombings, which is affecting the country and regional and international security,” he said on the sidelines of the 39th Asean Ministerial Meeting. 

GOOD FRIENDS: Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Syed Hamid walking down the stage for a group photograph in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Behind them is Asean secretary-general Ong Keng Yong.
Syed Hamid said the matter would be discussed with US State Secretary Condoleeza Rice when she arrives for the Asean Regional Forum meeting today.  

Syed Hamid will be signing the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Rice on Friday. 

“We are shocked that nothing is being done to stop this. The US can take measures and do something,” he added. 

Syed Hamid heavily criticised Israel's attack on a UN observation post in south Lebanon, which killed four military observers. 

“Israel's bombings have not only caused death and hardship to civilians but now even the UN is also affected,” said Syed Hamid who sent condolences to the families and countries affected by the bombings.  

He said it was easy for Israel to express regret over the deaths of the four observers but it was too late.  

Israel should withdraw its troops from Lebanon and let the United Nations take over if they are worried about the Hezbollah, he said. 

At the last press conference for the day, the Foreign Minister said that, following the East Asia Summit last year, five broad areas of concern have been identified – energy, finance, education, avian influenza and natural disasters – for follow up. 

The second EAS, to be held in Cebu in December, will discuss the impact of oil prices, alternative sources of energy and would look at the countries' financial structures to prevent a financial crisis. 

“We would like to create, at the end of it, an East Asia Community, a process using the Asean + 3 process and we have also agreed for Asean to continue being the driving force,” he said. 

Asked whether Singapore or Myanmar would host Asean after the Philippines, Syed Hamid said Asean had already decided that Myanmar would be given priority to chair Asean whenever it was ready.  

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