(May 24, 2021 / JNS) U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has left for the Middle East this week in the wake of last week’s ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
According to a statement from U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday, Blinken is traveling to the region at the request of U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss follow-up efforts to consolidate the ceasefire and reduce the risk of the conflict reigniting in the coming months.
Biden said in a statement on Monday that he was sending Blinken to the region to follow up on the “quiet, intensive diplomacy” of the United States during the past few weeks to bring about the ceasefire.
“During his trip, Secretary Blinken will meet with Israeli leaders about our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” said the president. “He will continue our administration’s efforts to rebuild ties to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years of neglect.”
According to Price, the visit will take place May 24 to May 27, beginning in Jerusalem, where he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and other officials.
He then plans to travel to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with Palestinian officials, including Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and other P.A. officials.
After that, Blinken heads to Egypt, which helped broker the ceasefire. In Cairo, he is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.
Blinken is expected to finish his trip with a visit to Amman, Jordan, to meet with King Abdullah II, and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.
Biden said that Blinken is meeting with key partners in the region to coordinate an international effort to make sure that immediate humanitarian assistance reaches Gaza “in a way that benefits the people there and not Hamas.”
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