Lebanon's Najib Mikati meets Qatari Emir to discuss Gaza

Visit takes place amid intensifying border tension between Hezbollah and Israel

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim meets Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati. Via Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati visited Qatar on Sunday, where he met the Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim to discuss the Gaza war.

The discussions included the "most recent developments in the Palestinian territories and the region”, and “the enhancement of bilateral relations between Lebanon and Qatar,” according to Mr Mikati’s official website.

After the meeting, Mr Mikati held talks with Qatar's Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, in the presence of Farah Berri, charge d'affaires of the Lebanese embassy in Qatar.

This visit took place in the context of the continuing border conflict between Iran-backed Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, and Israel.

Deadly clashes erupted at the Lebanese-Israeli frontier nearly three weeks ago, after the attack by Hamas on October 7 in Israeli territory, leading to a massive escalation of violence in Gaza.

Hezbollah has praised Hamas's attack and offered armed support but is yet to become fully engaged in the war.

The violence, so far confined to a few towns at the Israeli-Lebanese border, has killed at least 58 people in Lebanon, including civilians, and four people on the Israeli side.

There are concerns that the Israel-Hamas war will spill into the region, dragging Lebanon into a full-blown conflict.

The decision as to whether Lebanon, which is struggling with one of the worst economic crises in modern history, would enter the war is not in the government's control, as Mr Mikati said.

The country is experiencing a leadership crisis, with no president, and a government in its caretaker capacity that seems to have limited influence.

Despite the conflict at its border, Lebanon was not invited to the Cairo peace summit along with Jordan, France, Germany, Russia, China, the UK, the US, Qatar and South Africa, which was aimed at de-escalating the Israel-Gaza war.

The meeting ended without a breakthrough, without a joint statement and with no agreement towards containing the violence.

Hezbollah, a formidable militia said to be more powerful than the Lebanese army, and its sponsor Iran, are key players in deciding whether to join the Israel-Gaza war.

Details of the meeting between Mr Mikati and Sheikh Tamim have not been disclosed.

Doha has positioned itself as a mediator in the war, using its ties with Hamas, of which several leaders are based in Qatar, and its close relationship with the United States.

Qatar-led negotiations have already led to the release of four hostages taken during Hamas's attack on October 7.

Updated: October 29, 2023, 7:53 PM