EU calls on all sides to halt renewed violence

The European Union called on all sides to halt the renewed violence in the Middle East and take care to avoid more civilian casualties. "Every effort must be taken not to harm civilians," said EU spokeswoman Emma Udwin. "All parties must respect their obligations under international law to protect civilians from the effects of conflict." Udwin said EU foreign ministers on Monday could discuss whether the Israeli military attacks on Lebanon were compatible with the bloc's trade and cooperation agreement with Israel, which is conditional on respect for international law. "I'm not a lawyer, but that will be one of the subjects of a major discussion that foreign affairs ministers will conduct on Monday. There the EU's reaction will take form and will be explained in some detail," she told reporters. She stressed however that, the EU recognized "Israel's right to defend itself." Udwin restated the EU's condemnation of the seizure of two Israeli soldiers and expressed shock at the deaths of civilians in Israel's strikes in Lebanon. "We are very concerned by the actions on both sides," she said. "We have called on both sides to show as much restraint as possible."