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US seeks diplomatic deal to contain Israel-Lebanon escalation

Amos Hochstein said he was hopeful a "temporary compromise" could be reached to ease tensions along the Lebanon-Israel border.
US special envoy Amos Hochstein (L) meets with Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in Beirut on Jan. 11, 2024 amid continuing tensions on the Lebanese-Israeli border.

WASHINGTON — The White House dispatched senior advisor Amos Hochstein to Lebanon on Thursday as the Biden administration works to prevent Israel’s war against Hamas from spreading into a wider regional conflict.  

Hochstein arrived in Beirut as tensions along the Lebanese-Israeli border remained high following three months of near-daily tit-for-tat exchanges of fire between Israel and Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which have displaced more than 150,000 people on both sides of the border. The senior US official, who also visited Israel earlier this week, said a “temporary compromise” to reduce tensions was needed, “even if it is not possible to reach a final solution agreement at the present time.”

Before militants from Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and took some 240 others hostage on Oct. 7, Hochstein was working to resolve the longstanding land-border dispute between Lebanon and Israel. Last year, Hochstein brokered a breakthrough agreement on the maritime boundary between the two neighboring countries, which remain technically at war.

After meeting with Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in Beirut, Hochstein told reporters Thursday a diplomatic solution was needed to allow Lebanese and Israeli citizens to return to their homes near the volatile border. He also held talks with parliament speaker and Hezbollah ally Nabih Berri and Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun. 

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