Blinken heads to Middle East to consolidate ceasefire

Antony Blinken

Washington: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has embarked on a trip to the Middle East to consolidate the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas which was reached after an 11-day bloodshed in an around the Gaza Strip, the State Department said.

Starting from Monday to Thursday, Blinken will travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo and Amman to meet leaders of Israel, Palestine, Egypt, and Jordan, Xinhua news agency quoted the Department as saying.

Blinken and regional leaders will discuss essential follow-up efforts to consolidate the ceasefire and reduce risks of further conflict over the coming months, it added.

Following up on our quiet, intensive diplomacy to bring about a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, I have asked my Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, to travel to the Middle East this week,” President Joe Biden was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the White House on Monday.

During his trip, Secretary Blinken will meet with Israeli leaders about our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security. He will continue our administration’s efforts to rebuild ties to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years of neglect.

And he will engage other key partners in the region, including on the coordinated international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza in a way that benefits the people there and not Hamas, and on reducing the risk of further conflict in the coming months,” the President added.

An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement came into effect on May 21 at 2 a.m. between Israel and Hamas.

The 11-day clashes, the worst since 2014, have left at least 240 Palestinians dead and 1,910 others wounded. On the Israeli side, there were 12 fatalities and 300 injuries.