Blinken will travel to the Middle East “in the next few days”
The head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, will travel to the Middle East “in the next few days,” the State Department said on Thursday after Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire after 11 days of fighting.
Blinken spoke with his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, who “welcomed” the visit, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
He added that Blinken will also meet with Palestinian and regional figures “to discuss recovery efforts and work together to build a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.”
The announcement came after Blinken spoke with Ashkenazi twice on Thursday ahead of the implementation of the ceasefire, which was brokered by Egypt and came after mounting international pressure to curb the bloodshed.
“Both leaders expressed appreciation for Egypt’s mediation efforts, and the secretary noted that he would remain in close contact with his Egyptian counterpart and other stakeholders in the region,” Price said.
Blinken was heading home Thursday after a tour of the Arctic overshadowed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Working from hotel rooms and the plane in favor of a ceasefire, he spoke with leaders of both sides, as well as Arab nations with influence over Hamas.
The secretary of state “welcomed the confirmation from the (Israeli) foreign minister that the parties had agreed to a ceasefire,” Price said.
Earlier, Blinken had said he was willing to go to the Middle East “at any time.”
United States President Joe Biden, celebrated the ceasefire as a “real opportunity” for peace in a speech from the White House.
“I believe we have a genuine opportunity to move forward and I am committed to working towards it,” he said. Biden.
The Israeli military said that Hamas and other armed Islamist groups in Gaza fired more than 4,300 rockets at Israel, claiming 12 lives, including two children and an Israeli soldier.
The Israeli attacks on Gaza left 232 Palestinians dead, including 65 children, and 1,900 injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
The truce also includes the second most powerful armed group in Gaza, the Islamic Jihad.