US Special Envoy Amos Hochstein in Beirut, Lebanon November 7, 2023

US Envoy Due In Beirut For De-Escalation Talks

Sunday, 03/03/2024

US envoy Amos Hochstein will visit Beirut on Monday to continue efforts aimed at de-escalating the conflict across the Lebanese-Israeli border, a senior Lebanese official and a White House official said on Sunday.

The Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah and Israel have been locked in hostilities for months in parallel to the Gaza war. It has marked the worst conflict between the heavily armed adversaries since a 2006 war, fueling fears of an even bigger confrontation.

Lebanon deputy parliament speaker Elias Bou Saab, one of the officials due to meet Hochstein, told Reuters he believed the timing of his visit pointed to progress in efforts to secure a Gaza truce "within the next few hours or days."

"If this happens, I believe that Hochstein's visit this time will be of great importance to follow up on the truce on our southern borders and to discuss what is needed for stability," he said.

Washington has said a ceasefire deal in the Gaza war is close and is aiming to have it be in effect by the start of Ramadan, a week away.

Israel however boycotted talks in Cairo on Sunday after the Palestinian militant group Hamas rejected its demand for a complete list of hostages that are still alive, an Israeli newspaper reported.

Hezbollah has said it would halt its attacks on Israel when the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip stops, but that it was also ready to keep on fighting if Israel continued hostilities.

Hochstein, who visited Beirut in January, previously brokered a rare diplomatic deal between Lebanon and Israel in 2022 to delineate their maritime border.

Designated a terrorist group by the United States, Hezbollah has not been a direct party to his diplomatic efforts.

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