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Shi'ite cleric says Blair not welcome in Lebanon

Written by: Staff
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BEIRUT, Sep 10 (Reuters) Lebanon's top Shi'ite cleric today said British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is on a tour of West Asia, was not welcome in Lebanon because of his support for Israel and the United States.

Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah criticised Blair for not calling for an early truce in Israel's 34-day war with Shi'ite Hizbollah guerrillas and for allowing U S weapons to be shipped via Britain to Israel for use against Lebanon.

The Lebanese government should have told ''Blair that he is not wanted in Lebanon, so that he -- and those like him -- would know that we are not so naive as to welcome him when he has contributed to killing us and slaughtering our children,'' Fadlallah said in a statement.

Blair arrived in Israel yesterday and Lebanese officials have said he will visit Beirut tomorrow for talks on a U N truce which ended the fighting, triggered by Hizbollah's cross-border capture of two Israeli soldiers in July.

The conflict cost the lives of nearly 1,200 people in Lebanon, mainly civilians, and 157 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

During the war Britain allowed U S flights loaded with bombs for Israel to refuel at an airport in Scotland. Blair also drew criticism at home for standing with U S President George W Bush in opposing calls for an early ceasefire.

REUTERS DKA BS1411

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