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Blinken to visit Israel and Jordan on new Middle East trip

WorldBlinken to visit Israel and Jordan on new Middle East trip

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Israel and Jordan this week, the State Department announced, after the US and Israeli leaders discussed hostage-release talks.

Blinken will travel to both countries, a State Department official confirmed as the top US diplomat refuelled on Sunday in Ireland on his way to a previously announced stop in Saudi Arabia.

The trip was announced after US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by telephone about continuing talks to halt Israel’s offensive in Gaza in return for the release of hostages.

Egypt, Qatar and the United States have been trying to mediate a new truce between Israel and Hamas for months, as public pressure mounts for a deal.

Biden also reiterated concerns about Israel launching an operation in Rafah, the southern Gaza city where more than one million Palestinians have taken shelter.

The State Department did not immediately announce details of the two stops.

In a statement announcing the earlier Saudi stop, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Blinken will work on ceasefire efforts but added: “It is Hamas that is standing between the Palestinian people and a ceasefire”.

It’s the top US diplomat’s seventh Middle Eastern trip since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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