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President Bush arrived in Israel Wednesday on the first leg of a Middle Eastern trip to take part in the Jewish state's 60th anniversary celebrations. He said Israel's experience with democratic government was cause for optimism "everywhere" in the region. In contrast to Bush, Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sought to depress the celebrations, saying in a speech: "The Zionist regime is dying" and "if given the smallest and briefest chance," the nations of the Middle East would destroy it.

Arab League foreign ministers descended on Lebanon's capital Wednesday to try to mediate an end to the latest violence that has killed at least 54 people and wounded 200 others. Beirut was calm, largely because government troops were deployed between anti- and pro-Syrian elements with orders to use force to maintain order. The BBC reported that the government was expected to announce it would reverse the two decisions that triggered the violence: outlawing Hezbollah's telephone network and firing the security director at Beirut airport for his alleged ties to the militant group.


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