Lebanon ready for talks on long-term border stability, PM says

Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati told a senior United Nations official on Tuesday that his country was ready for talks on long-term stability on its southern border with Israel.

Mikati’s office says in a statement he met UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix in Beirut to reiterate “Lebanon’s readiness to enter negotiations to achieve a long-term process of stability in southern Lebanon” along the border with Israel.

“We seek permanent stability and call for a lasting peaceful solution – but in return we receive warnings through international envoys about a war on Lebanon,” Mikati said.

“The position I repeat to these delegates is: Do you support the idea of destruction? Is what is happening in Gaza acceptable?”

Since October 8, a day after Hamas’s murderous rampage across southern Israel, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in four civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of nine IDF soldiers. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 157 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 19 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 19 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

The violence has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people on both sides and raised fears the conflict could spiral.

Israel has said it is giving a chance for diplomacy to prevent Hezbollah firing on people living in its north and to push Hezbollah back from the border, warning that the Israeli army will otherwise take action to achieve these aims.

Hezbollah has said it does not seek full-scale war but would not hold back if Israel starts one.

Mikati’s statement did not specify the type of negotiations to which Lebanon would be open, including whether they would be direct or mediated.

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