Blinken to visit West Asia to discuss ceasefire in Gaza

Washington: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit West Asia next week to advance a ceasefire effort in Gaza

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, “The minister will discuss with allies the need to reach a ceasefire agreement that ensures the release of all hostages.” The visit is part of a new three-phase plan by US President Joe Biden to end the months-long war in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian extremist group Hamas.

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The statement said Blinken will insist that Hamas accept the proposal put before it “which is almost identical to the proposal supported by Hamas last month”.

It said, “The minister will discuss the benefits of the ceasefire proposal to both Israel and Palestine. He will emphasize that this will reduce the suffering of the common people in Gaza, increase humanitarian aid and allow Palestinians to return to their places of origin.

Neither Israel nor Hamas has yet agreed to the latest proposal, which calls for a six-week complete ceasefire and a permanent truce in the second phase.

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Qatar, the US and Egypt have been mediating between Israel and Hamas for months to secure a ceasefire and the release of hostages held by the militant group in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

After his trip to West Asia, Blinken will leave for the G7 leaders’ summit in Italy on June 13-14 where he will accompany President Biden.