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World digest: U.N. tries to reduce Israel-Lebanon tension

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

MIDDLE EAST

U.N. tries to reduce Israel-Lebanon tension

A day after Israeli and Lebanese forces exchanged fire in a clash that left four people dead, the commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force in south Lebanon invited officers from both sides for an unusual three-way meeting in a bid to avert an expansion of hostilities.

The group was scheduled to meet late Wednesday. Earlier in the day, the U.N. force confirmed that Israeli troops were operating inside Israeli territory when fighting erupted, dismissing Lebanon's claim that Israeli troops had crossed onto Lebanese soil.

Hostilities began Tuesday as Israeli troops worked to cut down a tree along the border in an area similar to where Israeli troops were ambushed by militants from the Lebanese militia Hezbollah in 2006. That attack prompted a month-long rocket war between Israel and the Islamist militia that killed hundreds and displaced thousands.

On Tuesday, Lebanese troops fired at the Israeli forces, and Israeli troops returned fire in combat that lasted about an hour. Two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese reporter and an Israeli reservist officer were killed. Israeli troops on Wednesday finished cutting down the tree.

-- Janine Zacharia

IRAN

Explosive thrown at leader's motorcade

An explosive was thrown at the motorcade of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in central Iran on Wednesday, witnesses said. But his office quickly denied any attack had taken place, saying a "firecracker" had gone off.

Witnesses described the incident as minor. One person was arrested, according to accounts posted on Iranian Web sites.

After the incident, Ahmadinejad gave a previously scheduled speech, which was broadcast live on state television. He appeared unhurt. Media reports said his car was about 100 yards from the site where the explosion occurred.


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