U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday ramped up his engagement with the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, convening a call with the leaders of Canada, France, Britain, Germany and Italy, after speaking with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
The White House reported Biden’s separate calls with the Western leaders, Netanyahu and Pope Francis amid growing fears that the Israel-Hamas war could mushroom into a wider Middle East conflict as Israel pounded Gaza and clashes on its border with Lebanon intensified.
It was not immediately clear why Biden’s call with the Western leaders did not include Japan. Together those countries form the Group of Seven advanced economies. G7 finance ministers met in Morocco earlier this month and issued a statement.
Biden convened a virtual meeting of the G7 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Biden and the Catholic leader discussed “the need to prevent escalation in the region and to work toward a durable peace in the Middle East,” the White House said.
The Vatican earlier said the call, which lasted about 20 minutes, “focused on conflict situations in the world and the need to identify paths to peace.”