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Annan, Siniora Discuss Mideast Ceasefire


U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora in Beirut Monday, as part of efforts to strengthen the cease fire between Israel and Hezbollah.

Mr. Annan said upon his arrival that he wanted to underscore what he called "international solidarity" regarding Lebanon. He said he will discuss the aftermath of the war and the measures needed to implement the United Nations resolution, which called for the cease fire and an expanded U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

Lebanese leaders are expected to urge Mr. Annan to pressure Israel into lifting its air and sea blockade of Lebanon. The U.N. chief also is to visit Israel, Syria and Iran.

Meanwhile, Turkey says it has agreed to contribute troops to the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon. The move will require the approval of the Turkish parliament.

In Paris, French President Jacques Chirac repeated a call for Israel to lift the blockade against Lebanon.

He also called for an urgent meeting of the Middle East quartet - the European Union, the United Nations, the United States and Russia - for talks on the situation between Israel and the Palestinians.

France, which will command the U.N. force in southern Lebanon until early next year, is sending 2,000 troops to the force.

Lebanon says the blockades are a violation of the U.N. cease fire resolution. Israel says the measures will remain in place until U.N. forces are posted along Lebanon's borders to stop weapons being smuggled to Hezbollah.

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