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22/03/24 | 10:22 am | Israel

Antony Blinken meets Arab leaders, calls for “enduring regional peace”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and other Arab leaders while reiterating the call for a truce in the Gaza war and support for the two-state solution, Al Jazeera reported.

The meetings over the past two days are part of Blinken’s sixth trip to the Middle East since the Israel-Hamas war broke out.

“I joined leaders from across the region — Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the Palestinian Authority — to continue working on a path for enduring regional peace,” Blinken posted on social media platform X.

In his talks with the Saudi crown prince in Jeddah, Blinken underscored the importance of “urgently addressing humanitarian needs” in Gaza, the US State Department said in a statement.

“Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to achieve an enduring end to the crisis in Gaza and to the establishment of a future Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel,” it added.

But, it is pertinent to note that PM Netanyahu has repeatedly voiced opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state, stressing that Israel must maintain security control over the Palestinian territory.
Blinken also travelled to Cairo, where he met top Egyptian officials, including President el-Sisi.

Secretary Blinken and President el-Sisi discussed negotiations to secure an “immediate ceasefire for at least six weeks” and the release of all hostages, the State Department said.

In a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, later on Thursday, Blinken laid out the US vision for post-war Gaza.

“Gaza cannot be used as a platform for terrorism. There can be no displacement of its population. There can be no reoccupation by Israel,” Blinken said.

On being asked about the Biden administration’s stand on the issue, the US Secretary said that while Washington is committed to Israel’s right to defend itself, it is also resolute in helping the people of Gaza.
“We are committed to Israel’s right to defend itself, to making sure that it has what it needs to defend itself and to making sure that October 7 never happens again,” he said. “We are also committed to doing everything we possibly can to help people who are in harm’s way.”

The top US diplomat has travelled several times to the region to finalise the truce agreement. On Thursday, he said the gaps to secure an agreement are narrowing, but there are still “real challenges” in the talks, as reported by Al Jazeera.

Blinken is set to conclude his trip in Israel. The visit will be his first since several Biden administration officials, including Biden himself, have intensified criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s actions.
Over 32,000 people have been killed in Gaza in the Israeli counteroffensive after Hamas carried out a massive terror attack in Israel, killing over 1200 people and holding around 250 captive.

Meanwhile, United Nations experts have warned that famine is imminent in Gaza as a result of Israel’s blockade, Al Jazeera reported.


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