Merkel, Chirac consult on Lebanon crisis

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Jacques Chirac discussed the crisis in the Middle East and agreed to consult closely on the next steps to take, Merkel's office said Tuesday. In the telephone conversation Monday, both leaders agreed that "a lasting cease-fire must be achieved as quickly as possible," Merkel spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said in a statement. He added that the UN Security Council must create the conditions for that, and that the basis must be a "political agreement between Israel and Lebanon and the full implementation of resolution 1559," which calls for the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon. Merkel and Chirac "agreed close consultation on further steps," the statement said.