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Monday, Apr 15, 2024

U.S. Diplomat to Further Peace Talks in Beirut

U.S. Diplomat to Further Peace Talks in Beirut

U.S. diplomat Amos Hochstein is set to arrive in Beirut on Monday to advance peace negotiations, aiming to ease tensions along the Lebanese-Israeli border, as confirmed by senior officials from both Lebanon and the White House.
The visit is part of a continued effort to stabilize the region, amidst the ongoing hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel that have generated fears of a larger conflict reminiscent of the 2006 war.

Deputy Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Elias Bou Saab, slated to meet with Hochstein, expressed optimism that the envoy's timing suggests an imminent Gaza ceasefire.

The hope is that Hochstein's trip will have significant implications for solidifying this truce and discussing further steps towards lasting stability and preventing war escalation.

While specifics of Hochstein's agenda were not disclosed by the White House, Washington is keen on securing a ceasefire before Ramadan begins. In contrast, recent talks in Cairo stalled as Israel withdrew, citing Hamas's refusal to meet its demands.

Hezbollah has stated its attacks on Israel from Lebanon will cease with the end of the Israeli offensive in Gaza, yet remains prepared for continued combat.

On a related note, Lebanon's acting Prime Minister Najib Mikati hinted that a prompt Gaza truce could pave the way for indirect negotiations to resolve the southern Lebanon-Israel border conflict.

Bou Saab noted Hochstein brings substantial proposals that could lead to a long-term resolution and avert war. Hochstein has a history of fostering rare agreements between Lebanon and Israel, having facilitated a maritime border deal in 2022.

Although the U.S. labels Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, Lebanese go-betweens have relayed Hochstein's diplomatic initiatives to the group, as it exerts considerable sway over the Lebanese government.

The Gaza conflict, which saw an outbreak on October 7 with a Hamas-initiated attack claiming 1,200 lives, prompted an Israeli counter-offensive resulting in over 30,000 Palestinian casualties per Gaza's health officials.

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