US Urges Israel's Defense Minister To Avoid Lebanon Escalation

US urges Israel's defense minister to avoid Lebanon escalation

Washington, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 25th Jun, 2024) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Israel during a Monday meeting with its defense minister to avoid further escalation in Lebanon as they discussed efforts to reach a deal to free hostages in Gaza.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was on a visit to Washington seeking to reaffirm the value of ties with Israel's top ally, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly chastised the United States for what he said was a delay in weapons deliveries.

In a two-hour meeting with Gallant at the State Department, Blinken discussed indirect diplomacy between Israel and Hamas on an agreement that "secures the release of all hostages and alleviates the suffering of the Palestinian people," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Blinken also "underscored the importance of avoiding further escalation of the conflict and reaching a diplomatic resolution that allows both Israeli and Lebanese families to return to their homes," Miller said in a statement.

Tensions have been rising with growing exchanges of fire between Israel and Lebanon's Iranian-backed militant movement Hezbollah.

Netanyahu has said Israeli forces are winding up the most intense part of the Gaza war and will redeploy to the northern border, although he cast the move as defensive.

Gallant also met CIA chief Bill Burns, the key US pointman in negotiations to free hostages from Hamas.

"I would like to emphasize that it is Israel's Primary commitment to return the hostages, with no exception, to their families and homes," Gallant said before starting his meetings.

"We will continue to make every possible effort to bring them home," he said.

The minister made no further comment as he left the meeting with Blinken, as a few dozen protesters outside the State Department chanted to call him a "war criminal."