Blinken to visit West Asia to discuss ceasefire in Gaza

Washington: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to visit West Asia next week to advance efforts for a ceasefire in Gaza. The US State Department said on Friday that Blinken will visit Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Qatar from Monday to Wednesday. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, “The ministers will discuss the need to reach a ceasefire agreement with partner countries that ensures the release of all hostages.” The visit comes amid tensions between Israel and the Palestinian extremist group Hamas. It is part of a new three-phase plan by US President Joe Biden to end the months-long war in Gaza. The statement said that Blinken will insist that Hamas accept the proposal put before him. “Which is almost identical to the proposal supported by Hamas last month.” It added, “Ministers will discuss the benefits the ceasefire proposal would bring to both Israel and Palestine. He will insist that this will reduce the suffering of ordinary 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. It calls for a complete ceasefire for six weeks and a permanent ceasefire in the second phase. Qatar, the US and Egypt have been mediating between Israel and Hamas for several months to make a ceasefire possible and the militant group to exchange Palestinian prisoners in Israel. The people held hostage can be released. After the trip to West Asia, Blinken will leave for the summit of leaders of G7 countries to be held in Italy on June 13-14 where he will be with President Biden.