Iranian Foreign Minister says Iran and US have exchanged messages in recent weeks By Reuters

©Reuters. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian speaks during a news conference upon arrival at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon, February 9, 2024. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Iran and the United States have exchanged messages during the four-month war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, including over the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, Iran’s foreign minister said on Saturday.

“During this war and in recent weeks, there has been an exchange of messages between Iran and America,” Hossein Amirabdollahian said through a translator at a news conference concluding a day-long visit to Beirut.

He said the United States has asked Tehran to ask Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, “not to be broadly and fully involved in this war against” Israel.

Hezbollah exchanges fire almost daily with the Israeli army along the Lebanese-Israeli border to support its Palestinian ally Hamas, and has vowed to “fight to the end” should Israel launch an all-out war against Lebanon.

Israel has launched a war aimed at destroying Hamas after the Islamic group staged a deadly cross-border attack in southern Israel on October 7.

The conflict has spread across the region and earlier this month Washington staged attacks against Iran-aligned groups in Irag, Syria and Yemen in retaliation for a deadly attack on US troops in Jordan.

Amirabdollahian on Saturday warned Israel against taking any steps towards a wider war against Lebanon, saying it would be Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “last day”.

He also said Iran sees a political solution as the only way to end the Gaza war.

“Iran and Lebanon confirm that war is not the solution and that we have absolutely never sought to expand it,” Amirabdollahian said at a news conference Saturday alongside his Lebanese counterpart, Abdallah Bou Habib.

He also said Tehran was in talks with Saudi Arabia on a political solution to hostilities in Gaza.

This week Hamas proposed a 4 1/2-month ceasefire, during which other hostages held by Hamas would be freed, Israel would withdraw its troops from Gaza and an agreement would be reached on ending the war.

Netanyahu called Hamas’s terms “delusional” and vowed to continue fighting. But Amirabdollahian said Hamas was presenting ideas based on a “realistic vision” and that they should be widely supported to end the war.

Amirabdollahian met with interim prime minister, foreign minister, parliament speaker and Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television said the foreign minister and Nasrallah reviewed the latest developments in Gaza and southern Lebanon, including “the immediate future of the situation in Lebanon.”

Amirabdollahian will travel to Syria, according to Syrian media, and meet with senior officials there.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps has endured one of its harshest periods in Syria since it arrived a decade ago to help President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war.

Since December, Israeli attacks have killed more than half a dozen of their members, including one of the Guard’s top intelligence generals.

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