Hochstein to visit Israel, French FM to visit Beirut


U.S. mediator Amos Hochsetin will arrive in Israel in the beginning of next week, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation said.

Political and diplomatic sources who contacted a Lebanese parliamentary delegation present in Washington meanwhile told al-Joumhouria newspaper that “Hochstein will tour the region and will be in Tel Aviv on Monday or Tuesday.”

“Should his visit achieve positive results in terms of the points of discussion, he might visit Beirut on Wednesday or Thursday,” the sources added.

French diplomatic sources meanwhile told the daily that “the new French Foreign Minister, Stéphane Séjourné, will visit Lebanon early next week as part of a regional tour involving a number of regional capitals.”

“He will likely be in Beirut between Monday evening and Tuesday morning, because the exact date will be affected by the tour,” the sources said.

Hochstein has held behind-the-scenes talks with Deputy Speaker Elias Bou Saab, who is the official Lebanese “channel” for talks regarding the situation in the south, informed sources have said.

Hochstein is seeking to devise a Lebanon-Israel settlement that would follow the cessation of hostilities in Gaza and that would put an end to the daily clashes between Israel and Hezbollah on the Lebanese-Israeli border, the sources told ad-Diyar newspaper in remarks published Thursday.

Hochstein had said Sunday that he “will likely head back soon” to Lebanon and Israel as part of the efforts to prevent a bigger conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

Nearly four months of cross-border fire have killed more than 210 people in Lebanon, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including more than 25 civilians. On the Israeli side of the border, nine soldiers and six civilians have been killed, according to Israeli officials.

The fighting has also displaced tens of thousands of residents on both sides of the border and Israel has warned that it is ready to use military force to return its settlers to their homes.

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