Bush says Israel has 'every right to defend itself'


US President George W. Bush said here that Israel had "every right to defend itself" against attack but warned it must be "mindful of the consequences."

Speaking in St Petersburg where he is attending the G8 summit, Mr Bush strongly defended Israel's right to defend itself from Hizbollah militant attacks.

Our message to Israel is, look, defend yourself," Bush said. "But as you do so, be mindful of the consequences. So we've urged restraint."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that the fighting between Israel and Lebanese guerrillas could ignite a wider conflict, and said the international community had to use all means possible to end the violence immediately.

"If Lebanon explodes, we all know ... how it can resonate across other countries in the region," Lavrov told reporters at the G-8 meeting in St. Petersburg.

Leaders of the G-8 nations - the United States, Russia, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada - began a full day of discussions and issued joint declarations that called for bolstering energy security, fighting infectious diseases and improving education. But concerns about the Mideast warfare dominated the summit.

The United States and France have begun preparations to evacuate citizens from Lebanon. US logistical teams arrived by helicopter at the US Embassy outside Beirut today to help Americans who want to leave Lebanon, the State Department said. Britain dispatched two ships, including an aircraft carrier, to the eastern Mediterranean in apparent preparation for evacuations. Russia confirmed that it was also pulling its citizens out of the nation.