Blinken to visit Egypt on 6th Middle East tour this week to discuss Gaza ceasefire

Ahram Online , Tuesday 19 Mar 2024

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Egypt and Saudi Arabia this week, in his sixth Middle East tour, to discuss an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the AFP reported, quoting a State Department spokesperson as saying on Tuesday.

Antony Blinken
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he boards an airplane to depart for the Philippines from Osan Air Base, in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Monday, March 18, 2024. AP


Blinken will arrive in Cairo on Thursday to hold talks with the Egyptian leadership after visiting Jeddah on Wednesday, Spokesman Matthew Miller said from the Philippines, where Blinken is touring.

During his visits, Blinken will discuss facilitating a Gaza ceasefire, releasing all captives, and intensifying global efforts to boost humanitarian aid, Miller said in a previous statement.

Blinken will also discuss “coordination on post-conflict planning for Gaza, including ensuring Hamas can no longer govern or repeat the attacks of 7 October,” Miller added.

Moreover, discussions will focus on a “political path for the Palestinian people with security assurances with Israel, and an architecture for lasting peace and security in the region,” according to the statement.

The US secretary will also discuss the need to end Houthi attacks on commercial ships and restore security and stability in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, added the statement.

On Monday, Egyptian and Qatari mediators met with Israeli negotiators, led by Mossad Director David Barnea, in Doha as part of ongoing weeks-long efforts to reach a ceasefire and a prisoner swap deal in Gaza.

A team of Israeli negotiators will stay in Doha to continue the talks with Egyptian and Qatari mediators, according to Axios citing a senior Israeli official as saying.

The American news website reports progress in ceasefire talks, asserting that indirect talks between Israel and Hamas have been addressing details of the possible deal for the first time, according to two Israeli officials and a source with direct knowledge.

The senior official says the current round of talks can take at least two weeks.

If agreed, a ceasefire can halt the more-than-six-month Israeli war on Gaza for at least six weeks and facilitate the release of dozens of Israeli captives and hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

Rounds of talks between mediators from Egypt, Qatar, and the United States have recently been held in Cairo, Doha, and Paris.  

Significant gaps in ceasefire talks between Hamas and Israel have been reported.

Hamas presented a proposal to mediators last week, demanding a permanent ceasefire date to be set and a deadline for Israeli withdrawal from Gaza after the exchange of detainees.

Israel has rejected these demands while approving a globally condemned ground operation in Rafah, a city on Egypt’s borders currently housing 1.5 million Palestinians, most of whom are displaced by the war.

World countries have been calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, where 31,726 people were killed, infrastructure was destroyed, and a famine is looming.

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