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France's new FM Sejourne makes first visit to Egypt, Lebanon, Israel & Jordan

French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné is set to visit the Middle East, meeting with almost all the parties involved in the Gaza war, except Qatar.
French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne chairs a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on the Middle East, including the situation in Gaza and Israel on Jan. 23, 2024, in New York City.

PARIS — French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné will travel to the Middle East on Saturday, on a first visit to the region since taking office on Jan. 11. His four-day tour of the region should include Cairo, Amman, Tel Aviv, Ramallah and Beirut. 

His predecessor, Catherine Colonna, visited Israel twice since Oct. 7, first on Oct. 15 and then on Dec. 17. 

French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Christophe Lemoine said Friday that the purpose of the minister’s trip will be to "work toward a cease-fire and the release of the hostages and to convince the parties to reopen a political perspective." Lemoine noted that Séjourné will continue France’s cooperation with the different actors, guided by the triple-pillar plan of French President Emmanuel Macron, which was announced by the French leader when he last visited the region. The three pillars include the urgency of expanding humanitarian aid for Gaza, confronting the security challenges, including the neutralization of the Hamas threat, and advancing a political horizon for the Palestinians by moving toward the two-state solution.

On his visit to Beirut, the French minister is expected to continue pursuing efforts against an escalation in the region and empowering the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) based in the south of Lebanon, said Lemoine, refusing to respond to whether Séjourné will meet in Beirut only with his Lebanese counterpart or also with Hezbollah representatives. Following Séjourné's tour, the French special envoy to Lebanon, Jean-Yves Le Drian, is expected to travel to Beirut in the coming days. 

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