What we know about Antony Blinken’s trip to the Middle East 

During his regional tour the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged Middle East nations to use their influence to prevent conflict escalation.

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, during Blinken's week-long trip aimed at calming tensions across the Middle East, in Amman, Jordan, January 7, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/Pool

His previous visits did not yield substantive results and this time, he has urged Middle East countries to use their influence over other actors in the conflict to curb the killings. 

“We want to make sure that countries who feel that way are also using their ties, using their influence, using their relationships with some of the actors that might be involved to keep a lid on things, to make sure that we’re not seeing the spread of conflict,” he appealed on January 6 while speaking with Turkish and Greek leaders before flying to Jordan. 

Blinken will also visit Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Israel, and the occupied West Bank in an effort to prevent “an endless cycle of violence” since “Far too many Palestinians have been killed, especially children,” he is quoted by Reuters.

“From the perspective of Israel, it’s clearly not interested, does not want escalation … but they also have to be fully prepared to defend themselves,” he added.

In Jordan, King Abdullah raised his country’s concerns over the displacement of Palestinian civilians during their meeting in Amman and Blinken, on his part, supported the return of the displaced to Gaza, a statement from the palace cited. 

“Palestinian civilians must be able to return home as soon as conditions allow. They cannot, they must not, be pressed to leave Gaza,” Blinken said at a press conference following a separate meeting with top Qatari officials in Doha.

King Abdullah had also told Blinken that the U.S. had a major role to play in pressuring Israel into an immediate ceasefire, and warned of the “catastrophic repercussions” of the continuation of the war in Gaza.

While Blinken completes his week-long tour, Israeli air and ground assault had killed 22,722 Palestinians by Saturday, according to Palestinian health officials.

The secretary of state said the U.S. was working to keep aid routes into the strip open and to multiply them.

“We are intensely focused on the very difficult and indeed deteriorating food situation for men, women and children in Gaza, and it’s something we’re working on 24/7,” Blinken said on his trip.

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