US Urges Israel’s Defense Minister to Avoid Lebanon Escalation 

This picture taken late on June 23, 2024 shows Israeli bombardment on the village of Khiam in south Lebanon near the border with Israel, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)
This picture taken late on June 23, 2024 shows Israeli bombardment on the village of Khiam in south Lebanon near the border with Israel, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)
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US Urges Israel’s Defense Minister to Avoid Lebanon Escalation 

This picture taken late on June 23, 2024 shows Israeli bombardment on the village of Khiam in south Lebanon near the border with Israel, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)
This picture taken late on June 23, 2024 shows Israeli bombardment on the village of Khiam in south Lebanon near the border with Israel, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)

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 armed 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.

President Joe Biden on May 31 laid out a plan for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages.

Hamas, which launched the conflict with its October 7 attack on Israel, has come back with its own demands, and the United States hopes the gaps can be bridged.

Netanyahu, who has faced major protests calling for him to accept the deal, in recent days has annoyed the Biden administration by accusing Washington of cutting back arms and ammunition deliveries.

Gallant, without naming Netanyahu, took a different tack.

"The eyes of both our enemies and our friends are on the relationship between the US and Israel," he told Blinken, according to Gallant's office.

"We must resolve the differences between us quickly and stand together -- this is how we will achieve our goals and weaken our enemies," Gallant said.

- 'Primary' goal on hostages -

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

Gallant said before meeting him that it was Israel's "primary commitment to return the hostages, with no exception, to their families and homes."

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

Biden, who has faced criticism from parts of his own base over his support for Israel, held back a shipment that included heavy 2,000-pound bombs.

Netanyahu -- who has close relations with Biden's rivals in the Republican Party -- told a cabinet meeting on Sunday that there was a "dramatic drop in the supply" of US weapons around four months ago.

Asked about his latest remark, Miller told reporters: "I don't understand what that comment meant at all."

"We have paused one shipment of high-payload munitions. That shipment remains on pause," Miller told reporters.

"There are other weapons that we continue to provide Israel, as we have done going back years and years, because we are committed to Israel's security. There has been no change in that," Miller said.

Miller said the United States would also press Israel to work on longer-term arrangements after the end of the fighting.

"We don't want to see in Rafah what we've seen in Gaza City and what we've seen in Khan Younis, which is the end of major combat operations and then the beginning of Hamas reasserting control," he said, referring to two other major cities targeted by Israel earlier in the war.



Sudan, Iran Exchange Ambassadors after 8-Year Rupture

Al-Burhan received the credentials of the Iranian ambassador (Sovereignty Council website)
Al-Burhan received the credentials of the Iranian ambassador (Sovereignty Council website)
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Sudan, Iran Exchange Ambassadors after 8-Year Rupture

Al-Burhan received the credentials of the Iranian ambassador (Sovereignty Council website)
Al-Burhan received the credentials of the Iranian ambassador (Sovereignty Council website)

The head of the Sovereignty Council, Commander of the Sudanese Army, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, received, on Sunday, the credentials of Hassan Shah, the new Iranian Ambassador in Sudan, after more than 8 years of complete estrangement between the two countries.
In press statements, the Undersecretary of the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hussein Al-Amin, pointed to the “beginning of a new phase of bilateral relations,” and stressed strong ties between Sudan and Iran.
He added: “The President of the Sovereignty Council welcomed the new ambassador of Iran.”
In turn, the Iranian ambassador said that submitting his credentials “comes within the framework of the common consensus between the two countries regarding the exchange of ambassadors and the promotion of bilateral relations.” He added that he would do his “utmost to strengthen cooperation relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Sudan.”
He also noted that his country “supports national sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Sudan.”
In October, Sudan announced the resumption of diplomatic relations with Iran following meetings between officials in the two countries, which lasted for months.
The new rapprochement began during talks between their foreign ministers in Azerbaijan, in July 2023, on the sidelines of the meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Non-Aligned Movement.
In June 2016, the government of deposed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced that it was severing its relations with Iran and expelling its ambassador from Khartoum.