Israel-Hamas war live updates: Blinken arrives in Middle East to rally support for ceasefire plan

US Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken visited Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Monday. He was received by Mohammed Al-Khamdi of the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.debt…Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken began a Middle East trip on Monday aimed at averting a wider war in the region and rallying allies around a plan to release hostages in Gaza. The visit comes as the Biden administration retaliates against Iran-backed militias targeting US troops.

Mr. Blinken landed in Saudi Arabia His fifth trip to the region since the October 7 attacks in Israel. U.S. officials said he is expected to lead negotiations on a series of cease-fire agreements to end the war in Gaza and hold meetings with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel and the West Bank. fight

The Biden administration and its Arab allies are anticipating a response from Hamas that includes exchanging more than 100 Israeli hostages in Gaza, including a cessation of hostilities and the release of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe diplomatic efforts, said Mr. Blingen would tell U.S. allies in the region not to interpret the escalation of fighting amid recent strikes by the Biden administration against Iran-backed militias. East.

The United States has carried out dozens of military strikes on targets in Iraq and Syria in recent days in retaliation for the killing of three American service members at a base near the Syrian border in Jordan. And US and British warplanes, backed by allies, launched a new round of airstrikes in Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthi militias in an attempt to prevent them from attacking ships in the Red Sea.

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The strikes in Iraq and Syria prompted Russia to call an “emergency” meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which was scheduled to meet on Monday afternoon. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Saturday accused the United States of further escalating the conflict in the Middle East, saying the strikes highlighted the “aggressive nature of US policy” in the region.

In Israel, Mr. Biden's top diplomat will convey U.S. concerns about rising civilian deaths in Gaza. According to the Gazan Ministry of Health, more than 27,000 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, and nearly two million people have been displaced by the fighting.

“We are equally clear that we must address and respond to the enormous and terrible suffering of the Palestinian people,” said Mr. Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security adviser, said Sunday. “That means pressing Israel on issues related to the humanitarian aid that we've helped open up the Gaza Strip and go in, and there's a lot more to it.”

Mr. Trump also discussed what diplomats call “day after” plans to manage Gaza after the fighting ends, including a possible role for the Palestinian Authority in governing parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Blinken will discuss.

The Biden administration hopes to make progress on getting Saudi Arabia to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, a long-term goal the United States sees as crucial to stabilizing the Middle East. Under a proposed deal, the U.S. would offer Saudi Arabia a security agreement, aid to a civilian nuclear program and increase arms sales, while the Saudis and Americans would, in theory, agree to conditions for affirmative action to create Israel. Palestine in return for Saudi recognition.

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