Lebanon Diplomacy: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says a ceasefire between Israeli and Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon is urgently needed, but that a truce also must be "sustainable."
As she traveled to the Middle East today (Monday) for talks in Lebanon and Israel, Rice said a ceasefire agreement must address the root cause of the conflict. This, she says, is the threat that Hezbollah poses to Israel. Rice adds that Iran and Syria's active support for the militants also is fanning the flames of conflict.
U.S. officials have not disclosed the top U.S. diplomat's specific plans, but officials in Beirut say Rice is traveling first to the Lebanese capital. Later today she is to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem, and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.
Israel – Lebanon: Heavy fighting is taking
place in southern Lebanon as Israeli forces approach the town of Bint Jbail in their offensive against Hezbollah militants.
Bint Jbail, known to be a Hezbollah stronghold, is north of (Marun al-Ras) a Lebanese hilltop village that Israeli forces seized last week.
Israeli armored vehicles crossed into Lebanon this (Monday) morning at dawn, headed toward Bint Jbail. Heavy exchanges of fire were reported between the soldiers and Hezbollah fighters.
Iraq: Iraqi officials say ousted dictator Saddam Hussein is being fed with a tube in a hospital, after being on a hunger strike for more than two weeks.
U.S. military officials say Saddam is voluntarily receiving nutrition through a feeding tube and that his life is not in danger.
Saddam's trial for crimes against humanity is due to resume today (Monday) after a two-week break. His lawyers are due to resume their summing up of the defense, but officials say the former president will not attend the proceedings.
Also, the defense team says it will boycott the court session to demand better security for lawyers, after a third defense attorney was killed last month in Baghdad.
Sharon Health: Israeli doctors say former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's condition has deteriorated, but that there is no immediate threat to his life. The 78-year-old former political leader has been in a coma for the past six months, since suffering a massive stroke (on January 4th). Doctors say Mr. Sharon's kidney functions have declined and liquid has accumulated in his body over the past two days. Tests also have shown his brain tissue is deteriorating, although medical experts (quoted by Israel's Army Radio) say such changes are not unusual for people in a comatose state for lengthy periods.
Cambodia – Ta Mok: Hundreds of people gathered at a village in northern Cambodia today (Monday) for the funeral of Ta Mok, a former military commander known as "the Butcher" of the Khmer Rouge regime.
Ta Mok was buried (near the Thai border) a few kilometers from the grave of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot (who died in 1998).
Despite his reputation as a bloodthirsty enforcer, Ta Mok was revered by the people of Anlong Veng, the village where he hid for nearly two decades after the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime was toppled from power (in Phnom Penh).
Lebanon Diplomacy: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has made a surprise stop in Beirut for crisis talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora about Israel's offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon.
On her way to the region, Rice said she is working for an urgently needed ceasefire in the conflict, which is now in its 13th day.
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