US Defense Secretary to visit Middle East to discuss peace: Pentagon Spox to Egypt’s Al-Qahera News

Ahram Online , Friday 15 Dec 2023

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will visit the Middle East next week to discuss ways to promote peace with regional counterparts, Pentagon spokesperson General Patrick S. Ryder told Al-Qahera News TV on Friday.

Patrick Ryder
File photo - Pentagon spokesman U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder speaks during a media briefing at the Pentagon, July 6, 2023, in Washington. AP


Austin will meet with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz to discuss the situation in Gaza, Ryder said, adding that he will stress to Israeli officials the importance of protecting civilian life and ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The United States has sent tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza, including medical supplies, food, and winter necessities he said. Ryder added that the US is working with its partners in Israel to ensure that humanitarian aid can enter the Gaza Strip.

Austin's visit follows General Michael Erik Kurilla's trip to Egypt and Jordan earlier this week, where he met with both countries' Chiefs of Staff to discuss current CENTCOM security concerns, according to an official statement released on Thursday by CENTCOM.

Ryder also said that the United States is committed to a two-state solution that will promote security and peace in the region. He also admitted that the US is working to provide Israel with weapons, but only on the condition that Israel protects civilians in Gaza.

"Thousands of civilians have been killed in the war in Gaza," the Pentagon spokesperson said. "We are working with Israel to ensure that civilians in the Strip are protected."

According to the latest numbers, Israel has killed more than 18,787 Palestinians and wounded at least 50,000 more, mostly women and children.

He also said that the US continues to consult with Israel on the importance of protecting the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and protecting them from violence by settlers.

Ryder also clarified that the US is working to bring about a situation different from what existed before 7 October, adding that the region should be safe and that Palestinians should be able to live in freedom.

When it comes to the situation in the Red Sea following the attack of Houthis on ships at Bab El-Mandeb strait, the Pentagon spokesperson described it as a violation of international law.

He revealed that the US has deployed naval forces to the region to protect international waters, adding that the US is working with its regional partners to de-escalate and peacefully the conflict.

Shortly following the statements of the Pentagon spokesperson to the Al-Qahera News TV channel concerning the security of the Red Sea, Danish shipping giant firm AP Moller-Maersk announced a temporary halt to all container shipments through the Red Sea until further notice.

Instead, the company will reroute these shipments around Africa, as confirmed by a spokesperson in a statement to Reuters on Friday. A Maersk vessel was reportedly attacked on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Israel's National Security Council issued "urgent instructions," instructing Israeli ports to expeditiously remove details about ship arrivals and departures from their websites, as reported by the Israeli Globes newspaper.

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