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Rice Makes Surprise Visit to Beirut

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to Beirut on Monday, meeting with Lebanese government leaders and pledging aid for Lebanon. Earlier, Secretary Rice said there was an urgent need for a "sustainable cease-fire" in Lebanon.

Traveling by helicopter, under heavy security, Secretary Rice landed in Beirut Monday afternoon, where she held talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and other Lebanese political leaders, but not with any representatives of Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.

Speaking earlier, Secretary Rice said it was important to establish conditions under which a cease-fire can take place calling a cease-fire "urgent," but saying it must be "sustainable."

Rice's comments come as senior Israeli officials say they would welcome an international peacekeeping force in Lebanon. Defense Minister Amir Peretz says Israel's ground operation is a necessary precursor to a cease-fire.

Peretz says Israel wants a diplomatic solution to the crisis and that a peacekeeping force, possibly led by NATO could be the solution.

Israeli forces encountered stiff resistance Monday when they pushed about two kilometers into Lebanon to take control of Bint Jbail, a town Israel says is a Hezbollah stronghold.