US and EU launch twin diplomatic mission to calm tensions in Middle East

US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, arrives in Crete on Saturday en route to his diplomatic tour of the Middle East. Escalation of violence comes as US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and Europe’s Josep Borrell begin tours of the region Middle East crisis – live updates The most senior diplomats from the US and the EU launched a dual diplomatic offensive in the Middle East on Saturday aimed at calming tensions that threaten chaos and wider conflict across the region. Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, began a five-day tour of the region with meetings in Turkey and the EU’s most senior diplomat Josep Borrell, visited the Lebanese capital Beirut. The diplomatic effort came amid a new round of violence on the disputed frontier between Lebanon and Israel, which is seen by analysts as the most likely flashpoint for a new full-scale conflict. Hezbollah fired multiple salvoes of rockets from southern Lebanon into Israel on Saturday as a “preliminary response” to the killing of a senior Hamas leader in Beirut last week in an attack widely attributed to Israel. Borrell expressed alarm about the exchange of fire and said it was important that Lebanon was not dragged into the Gaza conflict. “Diplomatic channels have to stay open. War is not the only option, it’s the worst option,” he said. Most analysts believe an all-out conflict between Hezbollah and Israel is still unlikely, with neither prepared to risk the death, expense and destruction that such a clash would mean. In two speeches in the past week, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Islamist organisation, threatened retaliation for the killing of Saleh al-Arouri , the deputy political leader of Hamas, but did not commit to a major escalation of attacks on Israel. Hamas and Hezbollah are allies, both close […]

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