Blinken off to Mideast to push peace talks after Gaza truce

World

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference at the Kangerlussuaq Airport in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, Thursday, May 20, 2021. Blinken lauded the re-establishment of a U.S. consulate in the Greenlandic capital of Nuuk and said the administration hoped to boost cooperation with island on a variety of fronts starting with climate change. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken will depart on Monday for the Middle East to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, amid a ceasefire following the worst outbreak in fighting between Israel and Hammas in recent years, the White House and the U.S. State Department said.

President Joe Biden made the announcement Monday. This short visit to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan and Egypt will be the Biden administration’s highest-level in-person meetings on the crisis that erupted earlier this month.

“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,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House.

In the statement, Biden said Blinken will also work with regional partners to ensure “the coordinated international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza.”

The administration had been roundly criticized for its perceived hands-off initial response to the deadly violence, including from Democratic allies in Congress who were demanding it take a tougher line on Israel and its response to rocket attacks from Palestinian militant groups in Gaza.

The administration has defended its response by saying it engaged in intense, but quiet, high-level diplomacy to support a cease-fire, which was ultimately arranged last week after Egyptian mediation.

Blinken will travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo and Amman through Thursday, and will meet with other regional leaders, the State Department said.

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The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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