Blinken to travel to Israel, West Bank, Morocco and Algeria 26-30 March

AFP , Friday 25 Mar 2022

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Israel, the West Bank, Morocco and Algeria over March 26-30 to discuss the Ukraine war, Israeli-Palestinian relations and Iran, the State Department announced Thursday.

Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks on as he attends a North Atlantic Council meeting during a NATO summit at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2022. AFP

Blinken will meet separately with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on the first stage of the trip, and while in Morocco he will also meet the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

Discussions will include "the Russian government's war on Ukraine, Iran's destabilizing activities, the Abraham Accords and normalization agreements with Israel, Israeli-Palestinian relations, and preserving the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," State Department Spokesman Ned Price said.

The trip comes as the United States is close to reaching an agreement with Iran to restore the 2015 accord limiting Tehran's nuclear development program in return for removing sanctions on the country.

In February Bennett said he was "deeply troubled" by the prospect of a new nuclear deal, which Israel fears would not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

The meeting in Morocco comes as the United Arab Emirates has displayed growing political influence around the region, showing an open door to Israel but also maintaining steady relations with Iran.

Washington was miffed last week Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, politically isolated since civil war erupted in his country in 2011, made a surprise visit to the UAE.

In Morocco Blinken will also meet with his counterpart Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

In Algeria, he will see President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra for talks on regional security and commercial relations.

Algeria is a leading supplier of natural gas to Europe, playing a crucial role after Russia's invasion of Ukraine last month halted the opening of a new large natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

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