Blinken takes Gaza mission to UAE and Saudi Arabia

Blinken Takes Gaza Mission To Uae And Saudi Arabia
Antony Blinken
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By AP Reporters

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has opened his third day of meetings in a bid to prevent Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza from exploding into a broader regional conflict in the Middle East.

Mr Blinken is meeting United Arab Emirates leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed before travelling to Saudi Arabia for talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aimed at enlisting the key Arab leaders in a push to not only keep the war contained, but also prepare for post-conflict Gaza’s future.


With Sheikh Mohammed in Abu Dhabi, Mr Blinken “emphasised the importance of preventing further spread of the conflict and stressed continued US commitment to securing lasting regional peace that ensures Israel’s security and advances the establishment of an independent Palestinian state”, US officials said.

Mr Blinken arrived in Abu Dhabi from similar meetings in Qatar, Jordan, Turkey and Greece, where he claimed modest success in his mission with pledges from those countries to consider contributing to the effort to plan for Gaza’s reconstruction and governance once the fighting has ended.

Gaza has been rocked by three months of Israeli bombardments that have sparked anger around the world for the massive damage and huge number of civilian casualties.


Financial and in-kind support from the UAE and Saudi Arabia will be essential to the success of any such plan and US officials said Mr Blinken hopes to overcome initial Arab resistance to considering “day after” scenarios for Gaza.

Arab countries have been pressing for an immediate ceasefire and an end to civilian deaths before discussing such plans.

But after his first meetings on his latest tour, Mr Blinken said he had been speaking with officials about contributions they could make to post-war plans and about using their influence to tamp down resurgent fears that the conflict could expand and potentially draw in direct US involvement.

Antony Blinken
Mr Blinken is looking to discuss post-war Gaza arrangements, as well as preventing the conflict from widening (Pool via AP)


“This is a conflict that could easily metastasise, causing even more insecurity and even more suffering,” Mr Blinken told reporters during a joint news conference in Doha with Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

“So from day one, among other priorities, we have been intensely focused on working to prevent the conflict from spreading,” he said.

“We share a commitment to ensure that the conflict does not expand.”


He said his talks had also included “not necessarily easy discussions” of what each country can do once the conflict is over “to provide the assurances and the incentives required to build a more secure and more stable, more peaceful future for the region”.

Mr Blinken added: “And my takeaway from the discussions so far, including here with our friends in Qatar, is that our partners are willing to have these difficult conversations and to make hard decisions. All of us feel a stake in forging the way forward.”

Arab states have been highly critical of Israel’s actions and have eschewed public support for long-term planning, arguing that the fighting must end before such discussions can begin.

They have been demanding a ceasefire since mid-October as civilian casualties began to skyrocket.

After his talks with Mr Blinken, Sheikh Mohammed called for an immediate ceasefire, saying the constant images of death and destruction in Gaza are de-sensitising people to the horrors of what is happening.

“This is a big test for our humanity,” he said. “We are looking for a sustainable future. However, the focus is now on stopping the fighting.”

In Amman on Sunday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II “warned of the catastrophic repercussions” of the war in Gaza, while calling on the US to press for an immediate ceasefire, a statement from the Royal Court said.

Israel has refused to agree to a ceasefire and the US has instead called for specified temporary “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid to get in and for people to reach safety.

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