Blinken kicks off new Middle East tour in Saudi Arabia, talks Gaza

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday embarked on his sixth trip to the Middle East since the conflict between Israel and Israel began. Hamashis Latest bid forced Israel to ease attacks on affected territories And determines A post-conflict plan that could lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

State Department officials don’t expect the brief visit — a day in Saudi Arabia, a day in Egypt and just a few hours in Israel — to be fruitful A major breakthrough, but they hope to advance an already exhausted discussion Blinken has been the center of attention for months.U.S. leaders, including President Bidencriticism of the war became sharper The White House faces domestic backlash over its handling of U.S. relations with Israel, which has taken a heavy toll on civilians in Gaza.

In Saudi Arabia, Blinken met with the country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to discuss a plan to normalize relations between Riyadh and Israel as part of a two-state solution. In Cairo, Blinken will meet Arab foreign ministers to discuss how to manage Gaza once the fighting stops.There will also be talks on a possible ceasefire Negotiations take place in Qatar.

Blinken told reporters in Manila on Tuesday that the leaders would “discuss what is the right architecture for a lasting regional peace” as part of a series of events in Asia ahead of his trip to the Middle East. “We also stressed to Israel the need for a plan for Gaza after the conflict ends.”

Blinken has been working with Arab leaders This has been finalized since January A He could then submit the plan to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to drum up Israeli support for steps the Biden administration hopes to take to reduce Hamas’s chances of launching future attacks similar to the Oct. 7 attack. possibility.

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Even before that attack, the Biden administration trying to broker a deal This move between Israel and Saudi Arabia would be an important step towards ending Israel’s isolation in the region. Saudi leaders want U.S. aid for their civilian nuclear program in return.

U.S. diplomats now hope that the lure of Saudi normalization is strong enough for Netanyahu to use as a bargaining chip to win over his willingness to talk about a Palestinian state, something he has long been skeptical of.

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By Ali Raza

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