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Leaders Urge U.N. Troops For Mideast

A senior U.N. envoy said Monday he will present Israel with "concrete ideas" to end the latest round of fighting after meeting with Lebanon's prime minister.

But Vijay Nambiar, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special political adviser, warned that "much diplomatic work needs to be done."

He did not elaborate on the ideas and said he will go to Israel shortly. He expressed optimism over the U.N. team's efforts in ending the violence, sparked by Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers last week.

"We have made some promising first efforts on the way forward," he said after meeting with Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. He added that time was an important factor and that "creative solutions have to be found in order to prevent a broadening and deepening of the crisis."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday called for the deployment of international forces in southern Lebanon to enforce a peace. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would consider contributing troops, and the European Union announced it was considering a peacekeeping force as well.

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said a cease-fire, followed by a prisoner swap would be acceptable and fair. Israel has demanded the freeing of its soldiers before any talk of a halt in fighting.

"My team discussed concrete ideas with the Lebanese authorities," Nambiar said. "We will convey these ideas for further discussions as developments warrant," he said, adding it may become necessary to return to Lebanon "to explore these ideas further."

"These are first steps and much diplomatic work needs to be done before we arrive at any grounds for optimism," he said.

However, the envoy warned that "the consequences of failure could indeed be grave."

Nambiar, leading a U.N. team, met with Saniora on Sunday and called for the release of captured Israeli soldiers, the protection of civilians and infrastructure, and he expressed support for Lebanon's appeal for a cease-fire.

The escalating violence in the Middle Eat overshadowed the G-8 summit of world leaders in Russia, where President Bush, not realizing his remarks were being picked up by a microphone, bluntly expressed his frustration with Hezbollah, a militant Islamic group believed backed by Iran and Syria.

"See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s--- and it's over," Mr. Bush told British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a discussion before the Group of Eight leaders began their final lunch.

Mr. Bush also suggested that Annan call Syrian President Bashar Assad to "make something happen."

"The fact that world leaders were all present at the G-8 meeting makes it probable that troops will be dispatched without delay for a multinational security force," said CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk.

"And the fact that the U.N. was successful in getting Syrian troops out of Lebanon in the past adds to their credibility in the region," Falk said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is opposed to sending international forces to Lebanon, Israeli senior officials said. Olmert instead wants Lebanese forces to take control of the border area with Israel and wants the Hezbollah militia disarmed.

France said it is sending Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin to Beirut to express support for Lebanon's government. And French President Jacques Chirac, who attended the summit, said he believed "some means of coercion" may be needed to enforce a U.N. resolution that calls for the disarmament of Hezbollah and other militias in Lebanon.

The White House said it had nothing to announce about a trip to the Middle East by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, even though Mr. Bush was overheard telling Blair, "She's going. I think Condi's going to go pretty soon."

Annan, in a joint press appearance with Blair, appealed to Israel to abide by international law, spare civilian lives and infrastructure. "We should not inflict any more suffering on them," Annan said. "Both parties should bear that in mind and respect international humanitarian law."

At his closing G-8 news conference, Blair said that assembling an international peacekeeping force could take time. He said Britain would work with other countries although he called British forces, which are part of the U.S.-led effort in Iraq, as "somewhat stretched."

The comments by Blair and Annan came a day after world leaders forged a unified response at their G-8 summit to the crisis in the Middle East, blaming Hezbollah and Hamas for the escalating violence and recognizing Israel's right to defend itself — although they called on the Jewish state to show restraint.

"I am most pleased that the leaders came together to say, look, we condemn violence. We honor innocent life," Mr. Bush said before heading into a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "For the first time, we've really begun to address with clarity the root causes of the conflict ... and that is terrorist activity – namely Hezbollah, that's housed and encouraged by Syria."

Mr. Bush also asserted that the militant Islamic group is financed by Iran. However, the G-8 statement makes no mention of Syria or Iran. Putin told reporters that Russia blocked the effort to name Syria.

"If we don't have enough grounds to blame somebody, we cannot ... put them in documents on such a serious state level just based on assertions," Putin said.