US Secretary of State to Discuss Aid Access, Hostage Release in 5th Middle East Trip

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit the Middle East from Sunday, February 4, through Thursday, February 8, 2024.

A press statement on Friday, February 2, said that the Secretary will have a week’s travel to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel, and the West Bank.

According to a statement released February 2 by the State Department, “U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel, and the West Bank from Sunday through Thursday next week.’’

The tour will mark Blinken’s fifth trip to the region since the October 7 terrorist attacks in Israel and is a part of his ongoing effort to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas and work towards a humanitarian pause that would allow more aid to reach civilians in Gaza.

Since November, Qatari and Egyptian mediators have been involved in ongoing negotiations to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The discussions have also included proposals for a phased release of the hostages and a temporary ceasefire, with the aim of pausing the conflict. The negotiations have also involved the United States, with efforts to bridge the gap between the positions of Israel and Hamas.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in the statement that Blinken will continue diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement that secures the release of all remaining hostages and includes a humanitarian pause to deliver assistance to civilians in Gaza.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made several foreign trips since January 2024. According to the United States Department of State, he travelled to Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Angola from January 21–26, 2024, on diplomatic engagements.

According to the Department of State, the Secretary’s travel focuses on regional security, conflict prevention, democracy promotion, and trade.

Russian President Vladimir Putin created a rift when he gradually expanded Russian influence in Africa, especially in the Sahel region, which Secretary of State Antony Blinken intends to close. Russia has been gaining ground across the continent despite minimal investment.

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