US Secy Blinken to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt for dialogue on Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal

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WASHINGTON, DC: US State Secretary Antony Blinken is set to visit Saudi Arabia and Egypt to meet with government leaders this week and discuss efforts to reach an “immediate ceasefire agreement” between Israel and Hamas, the US State Department said in a statement.

The deal will safeguard the release of hostages abducted by Hamas during the October 7 attack on Israel, the State Department also said.

The agreement would also ensure “intensified international efforts to increase humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and coordination on post-conflict planning for Gaza, including ensuring Hamas can no longer govern or repeat the attacks of October 7,” the State Department statement read.

Blinken will also discuss how to end Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Truce negotiations are currently underway in Qatar involving Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Israel’s Mossad chief David Barnea, and Egyptian officials. These discussions centre on a potential ceasefire agreement in Gaza, with the condition being the release of hostages held by Hamas, according to a source familiar with the talks as reported by CNN.

Blinken’s visit will be part of a larger trip, which includes stops in Austria, South Korea, and the Philippines.

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on in which the former warned the latter against the prospect of Israel conducting a major military operation in Rafah, the southernmost city of Gaza, where more than a million Palestinians have taken refuge.
In their first telephone conversation in over a month, the two leaders spoke about the latest developments in Israel and Gaza, including Israel’s military operations, increasing humanitarian assistance going to Gaza, and efforts to bring hostages home, the White House said on Tuesday
In the call, Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s commitment to achieving its war goals, including eliminating Hamas and releasing hostages.

The call between Netanyahu and Biden was their 20th since the outbreak of war following Hamas’s October 7 attack, but their first since February 15 according to the Times of Israel. (ANI)

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