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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Top US diplomat ‘prepared’ to travel to Middle East after Palestine-Israel violence

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday he would be prepared to travel to the Middle East, as he headed home from an Arctic tour overshadowed by Israeli-Palestinian fighting.

His statement came as Israel agreed a ceasefire with the two main Palestinian armed groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, following 11 days of conflict in which 12 Israelis and 232 Palestinians died, according to official tolls.

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“I am prepared at any time to go to Israel, to the Middle East, if that would serve the purpose of moving beyond the violence and helping to work on improving lives for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” Blinken said at a press conference in Greenland.

He said that he had pushed for a “de-escalation on the path to a ceasefire” in a phone call with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict had topped journalists’ questions at Blinken’s public appearances in Denmark and at the Arctic Council in Iceland, where he also met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

He spoke to leaders on both sides, as well as from Arab nations with influence over Hamas, from hotel rooms and the airplane in the scramble for a ceasefire.

Now “if there’s a good time” to travel to the Middle East “that’s certainly something I intend to do,” Blinken said without naming a date.

Read more: Biden administration approves sale of $735 mln in weapons to Israel

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