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EU, US warn against Israel-Hamas war expanding into regional conflict

EU, US warn against Israel-Hamas war expanding into regional conflict

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EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, both on trips to the Mideast, warned on Saturday against the Israel-Hamas war escalating into a regional conflict as hostilities increased following the killing this week of a top Hamas official.

“It is absolutely imperative to ensure Lebanon is not drawn into a regional conflict,” Borrell told a press conference in Beirut, according to Reuters and Agence France-Presse. “I’m also sending this message to Israel: No one will win from a regional conflict,” he said,.

Blinken met on Saturday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan as part of a new diplomatic tour of the Middle East. Blinken “emphasized the need to prevent the conflict from spreading, secure the release of hostages, expand humanitarian assistance and reduce civilian casualties,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in comments to Reuters.

Borrell said he agreed with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati to work on “de-escalation and long-term stability,” during a meeting that touched on southern Lebanon, the Gaza war and Syria.

He also sounded the alarm about a “worrying intensification of exchange of fire” at the United Nations demarcation between Lebanon and Israel, known as the Blue Line.

“The priority is to avoid regional escalation and to advance diplomatic efforts with a view to creating the conditions to reach a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine and in the region,” said Borrell in a post on X.

Fears that the Israel-Hamas conflict will spread to neighboring countries have grown as the Gaza Strip death toll of nearly 23,000 keeps rising after three months of Israel’s heavy military retaliation to a Hamas massacre in early October that killed over 1,200 people and led to the hostage-taking of nearly 250 others.

Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on Saturday fired dozens of rockets at Israel after a strike earlier this week killed Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri. Houthi militants, meanwhile, have increased their attacks of commercial ships in the Red Sea.

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