Chirac calls on Israel to lift Lebanon blockade

French President Jacques Chirac on Monday urged Israel to lift its blockade of Lebanon and said he was asking for an urgent meeting of international negotiators to discuss the broader question of bringing peace to the Middle East. Chirac, speaking to France's ambassadors at the Elysee Palace, said it was up to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to launch a political peace process after a weeks of fighting between Hizbullah and Israel. "But already I call on Israel to lift the air and maritime blockade that is seriously penalizing the Lebanese economy and preventing progress toward normalization," Chirac said.