Russia’s Lavrov talks Middle East with Iran, Turkey, Lebanon

(Reuters) – Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with his counterparts from Iran, Turkey and Lebanon ahead of the United Nations Security Council meeting on Tuesday due to discuss the Middle East, the Russian foreign ministry said.

The bilateral meetings focused on the Gaza Strip, Syria and “the tense situation” in the Red Sea, the ministry said on the Telegram messaging app on Tuesday. The meetings took place in New York on Monday.

The ministry said Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian agreed on the need for a swift ceasefire in Gaza and conditions for providing humanitarian assistance to civilians.

“General concern was expressed about the tense situation in the Red Sea, which has sharply degraded,” it said.

On Monday, the United States and Britain carried out an additional round of strikes against Yemen’s Houthis over their targeting of Red Sea shipping, the Pentagon said.

Lavrov and Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib talked about the importance of collective efforts of countries in the region toward an immediate ceasefire, the ministry said.

Israel in recent days carried out reportedly the most intense bombardment in southern Gaza since the war began in October, prompting calls from Washington to protect innocent people in hospitals, medical staff and patients.

According to the UN agenda, the Security Council is to discuss “the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.”

Lavrov said on Thursday he will propose “collective efforts” at the meeting to solve the Middle East crisis.

With his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan, Lavrov also discussed energy issues as well as “upcoming bilateral contacts.”

In December, the Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin may visit Turkey in early 2024.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)