US Secretary Antony Blinken to visit Egypt for Gaza ceasefire push

The diplomat's trip comes as Israeli minister Benny Gantz announced his resignation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government on Sunday

By Reuters

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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Mon 10 Jun 2024, 10:33 AM

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to arrive in Cairo on Monday, June 9, at a critical time as Washington seeks to increase pressure on Hamas and Israel to reach a ceasefire in Gaza and ensure the war does not expand onto Lebanon.

In his eighth visit to the region, the top US diplomat is also set to travel to Israel, Jordan and Qatar this week.

US President Joe Biden on May 31 outlined a three-phase ceasefire proposal from Israel that envisions a permanent end to hostilities, the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, and the reconstruction of Gaza.

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Blinken's trip comes as Israeli minister Benny Gantz announced his resignation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's emergency government on Sunday, withdrawing the only centrist power in the embattled leader's otherwise far-right coalition during the war in Gaza.

Blinken during the trip this week will discuss with partners the need to reach a ceasefire agreement that secures the release of all hostages, as well as the need to prevent the conflict from escalating further, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement on Friday.

He will emphasise the importance of Hamas accepting the proposal on the table, Miller added.

US officials say that since it is an Israeli plan, Israel is likely to accept it. Qatar has said Israel needs to give a clear position on the plan that represents the whole government, parts of which have opposed any kind of truce.

Hamas has said it views the contents of the proposed plan positively and has criticised Washington for what it described as attempts to blame the Palestinian militant group for hampering it.

Ceasefire talks have intensified since Biden's speech and CIA director William Burns met senior officials from mediators Qatar and Egypt on Wednesday in Doha to discuss the plan.

Biden has repeatedly declared that ceasefires were close over the past several months, but there has been only one, week-long truce, in November.


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