US Seeking Diplomatic Deal to Prevent Israel-Hezbollah Conflict, Pentagon Chief Says

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (L) speaks to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (R) during their meeting at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, USA, 25 June 2024. (EPA)
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (L) speaks to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (R) during their meeting at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, USA, 25 June 2024. (EPA)
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US Seeking Diplomatic Deal to Prevent Israel-Hezbollah Conflict, Pentagon Chief Says

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (L) speaks to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (R) during their meeting at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, USA, 25 June 2024. (EPA)
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (L) speaks to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (R) during their meeting at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, USA, 25 June 2024. (EPA)

The United States is urgently working towards a diplomatic agreement that would allow Israeli and Lebanese civilians to return to their homes on both sides of the border, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday.

Shelling on Israel's northern border has led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from areas on both sides of the frontier, and has escalated in recent weeks, leading to fears of an all-out Israel-Hezbollah war.

"Hezbollah's provocations threaten to drag the Israeli and Lebanese people into a war that they do not want. Such a war would be a catastrophe for Lebanon and it would be devastating for innocent Israeli and Lebanese civilians," Austin said at the start of his meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at the Pentagon.

"Diplomacy is by far the best way to prevent more escalation. So we're urgently seeking a diplomatic agreement that restores lasting calm to Israel's northern border and enables civilians to return safely to their homes on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border," he added.

Israel's national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi has said that it will spend the coming weeks trying to resolve the conflict with Lebanon's Iran-backed, heavily armed Hezbollah group and would prefer a diplomatic solution.

Hanegbi said Israel had been discussing with US officials the possibility that an expected end of intense Israeli military operations in Gaza would allow an "arrangement" to be reached with Hezbollah.

At the Pentagon, Gallant said that he would discuss military readiness with Austin. "We are working closely together to achieve an agreement, but we must also discuss readiness on every possible scenario," Gallant said.



US Invites Sudan's Warring Parties for Talks

FILE PHOTO: A view of a street in the city of Omdurman damaged in the year-long civil war in Sudan, April 7, 2024. REUTERS/El Tayeb Siddig/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A view of a street in the city of Omdurman damaged in the year-long civil war in Sudan, April 7, 2024. REUTERS/El Tayeb Siddig/File Photo
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US Invites Sudan's Warring Parties for Talks

FILE PHOTO: A view of a street in the city of Omdurman damaged in the year-long civil war in Sudan, April 7, 2024. REUTERS/El Tayeb Siddig/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A view of a street in the city of Omdurman damaged in the year-long civil war in Sudan, April 7, 2024. REUTERS/El Tayeb Siddig/File Photo

Washington has invited the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces for US-mediated ceasefire talks starting on Aug. 14 in Switzerland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.

RSF leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo said early on Wednesday they will constructively participate in the talks to achieve "a comprehensive ceasefire across the country and facilitate humanitarian access to all those in need."
"We reaffirm our firm stance ... which is the insistence on saving lives, stopping the fighting, and paving the way for a peaceful, negotiated political solution that restores the country to civilian rule and the path of democratic transition," Dagalo said in a statement.

The talks will include the African Union, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations as observers, Blinken said in a statement. Saudi Arabia will be a co-host for the discussions, he added.

"The scale of death, suffering, and destruction in Sudan is devastating. This senseless conflict must end," Blinken said, calling on the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF to attend the talks and approach them constructively.

The war in Sudan, which erupted in April 2023, has forced almost 10 million people from their homes, sparked warnings of famine and waves of ethnically-driven violence.