France, US Intensify Efforts to Prevent Middle East Explosion

French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Joe Biden gesture, ahead of a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France June 8, 2024. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

By John Irish

 – France and the United States will work harder to prevent a broader escalation in the Middle East with a key priority to calm the situation between Israel and Hezbollah, President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday.

“We are redoubling efforts together to avoid a regional explosion, particularly in Lebanon,” Macron said in a joint statement with Joe Biden during the U.S. President’s state visit to France.

Macron added that the sides were working on “advancing parameters” to reduce tensions and end an institutional vacuum in Lebanon.

France’s Macron Says Urgency to Reduce Tensions Between Israel and Iran Regime-Backed Hezbollah

France and the United States have in recent months worked to try to defuse tensions with Paris submitting written proposals to both sides aimed at stopping worsening exchanges between Israel and Hezbollah on the border.

The United States has also worked on the issue, but diplomats have said there have been problems in coordinating efforts.

Macron said the two countries had developed “a close coordination” in the discussions “with Israel on one side and with Lebanon and all the parties involved on the other side”.

Biden made no mention of Lebanon in the short statement and also did not mention Iran, which Macron said was adopting a strategy of escalation in the region, citing Tehran’s attack on Israel and the development of its nuclear programme.

“Our two countries are determined to exert the necessary pressures to stop this trend,” Macron said.

Despite U.S. reservations, France, Britain and Germany last week put forward a resolution against Iran that was passed over its nuclear programme at the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors.

While eventually backing the resolution, Washington had shown misgivings beforehand with diplomats saying the U.S. feared it could provoke Iran, something it wants to avoid before November’s presidential election.

Fresh from commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Biden’s state visit to France is marked by pomp as well as talks on trade, Israel and Ukraine.

(Reporting by John Irish, editing by Gus Trompiz and Clelia Oziel)

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