Blinken presses for Gaza aid on Jordan visit

The US Secretary of State observed Jordan's efforts to bring in food and supplies


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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Tue 30 Apr 2024, 6:14 PM

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday called for the redoubling of efforts to bring aid into Gaza as he held talks in Jordan on coordination.

Blinken, on his latest tour of the region since the Gaza war erupted in October, observed Jordan's efforts to bring in food and supplies and praised the "extraordinary work" led by the United Nations.

"This is a critical moment in making sure that everything that needs to be done is being done," Blinken said as he met in Amman with the UN humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag.

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Blinken met separately with King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi both on aid and on diplomacy for a temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that includes the release of hostages.

In talks with the king, Blinken -- who will head later in the day to Israel -- said "that Hamas should accept the proposal on the table", State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Jordan's foreign ministry said Safadi had raised "the necessity of starting to implement a comprehensive plan to end the occupation and achieve just and comprehensive peace within the framework of the two-state solution".

Jordan, which has diplomatic relations with Israel and also has a large Palestinian population, is especially sensitive to tensions in the Palestinian territories.

Earlier in April, Jordan shot down Iranian drones fired at Israel in response to a deadly air strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria.

Jordan, while working with the United States, has insisted it does not want to be caught in the middle of the conflict.

President Joe Biden's administration, despite criticism abroad and rising fury on US university campuses, has supported Israel in its relentless campaign against Hamas but also urged its ally to do more to protect civilians.

"President Biden has insisted that Israel take specific, concrete, measurable steps to better address humanitarian suffering, civilian harm and the safety of aid workers in Gaza," Blinken told Gulf Arab foreign ministers in Riyadh on Monday.

"We have seen measurable progress in the last few weeks, including the opening of new crossings, an increased volume of aid delivery to Gaza and within Gaza, and the building of the US maritime corridor, which will open in the coming weeks," Blinken said.

"But it is not enough. We still need to get more aid in and around Gaza," he said.

Biden warned Israel that future support was at stake after an April 1 Israeli strike killed seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen, the charity founded by celebrity Spanish-American chef Jose Andres.

The United States said that Israel has since taken steps to avoid such deaths in the future, including coordinating more directly with aid groups working in Gaza.

But the situation remains dire in Gaza, where most people have fled their homes and the United Nations has warned of looming famine.

The Biden administration is addressing the crisis by building a temporary pier to bring in aid, an extraordinary step to deal with concerns about a friendly country and major recipient of US assistance.


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