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France’s Macron meets with Lebanon premier to quell Hezbollah threat on Israel border

April 21, 2024 at 9:21 am

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) meets with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Elysee Palace during the latter’s official visit to Paris, France on April 19, 2024 [Ümit Dönmez/Anadolu Agency]

French President Emmanuel Macron has met with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Army Chief Joseph Aoun to discuss the tackling of militant group Hezbollah and an end to the country’s ongoing political stalemate.

In the meeting at the French presidential Elysee Palace in Paris on Friday, according to a statement by the president’s office, Macron told Mikati that France would “continue to act for Lebanon’s stability” and would do “everything in its power” to prevent conflict from further escalating between Lebanon and Israel.

Macron also raised the issue of France’s participation in a United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, stressing “everyone’s responsibility towards it”.

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According to Mikati’s office, the two leaders discussed France’s proposal to end cross-border clashes through the withdrawal of Hezbollah’s armed wing from within 10 kilometres of the border with Israel and increased support for the Lebanese army. In that regard, he thanked Macron for his efforts “to stop the Israeli aggression against Lebanon and support the army with equipment and expertise to enable it to fully carry out its tasks”.

Since the start of Israel’s invasion of and offensive on the Gaza Strip, frequent skirmishes have broken out around the Israeli-Lebanese border with both Israeli forces and Hezbollah militants firing missiles, resulting in dozens of deaths on both sides of the border

Macron’s talks with Mikati and army chief Aoun, his involvement in Lebanon, and his attempt to curb Hezbollah’s strength are the latest efforts by a Western leader or senior politician to avert an escalation of the Gaza offensive into a wider regional war.

READ: Israel Defence Minister seeks to prepare Israel public for full-blown war in Lebanon: Report