Blinken begins a three-day tour of the Middle East
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived Sunday in the Middle East, beginning a three-day visit amid clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. On the agenda during Blinken’s visit are Iran and the war in Ukraine.
After a stopover in Cairo, Blinken will travel Monday to Jerusalem for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new Israeli administration, which includes ultra-nationalist parties that want to expand settlements in the West Bank.
Blinken will reiterate U.S. calls for calm and emphasize Washington’s support for a two-state solution, although U.S. officials acknowledge that long-term peace talks are unlikely in the near future.
On Friday, a Palestinian gunman killed seven people in an attack outside a synagogue in Jerusalem. It was the most serious incident in the Jerusalem area since 2008, following Thursday’s Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, which was the bloodiest in years.
Blinken will also travel to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, other Palestinian officials and civil society representatives.
Earlier, Ukraine asked Israel to provide systems to shoot down drones, including those supplied by Iran to Russia.
Israel rejected these requests. Although Jerusalem condemned the Russian invasion, it limited itself to providing humanitarian aid and protective equipment, citing a desire to continue cooperating with Moscow on Syria and ensuring the well-being of Russian Jews.
Diplomats will also discuss Iran’s nuclear program, as the Biden administration’s efforts to reopen the 2015 nuclear deal have stalled and there is no other plan to prevent Iran from developing weapons.
In Cairo, Blinken will meet with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. During the visit, Blinken is expected to touch on human rights. The Biden administration did not provide millions of dollars in military aid to Egypt because of its failure to meet human rights conditions.
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