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Blinken to visit Turkey after Israel, Jordan

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Turkey for two days from Sunday as part of a Middle East tour amid the Hamas-Israel war, the State Department said, Agence France-Presse reported.

Blinken was meeting with Arab counterparts in the Jordanian capital Amman on Saturday after visiting Israel the day before.

But he left Israel empty-handed on Friday after urging its leaders to do more to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s war to destroy Hamas.

The nearly month-long war erupted when militants from the Islamist group launched bloody raids across the border into Israel on October 7.

Israeli officials say Hamas militants killed about 1,400 people, mainly civilians, and took more than 240 hostages, including Israelis, foreigners and dual nationals.

Hamas-run Gaza’s health ministry says more than 9,400 people have been killed in Israeli bombardments, most of them children or women.

In Turkey, Blinken would “underscore the importance of protecting civilian lives in Israel and the Gaza Strip,” the US State Department said in a statement on Saturday.

He would also discuss “our shared commitment to facilitating the increased, sustained delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza” as well as ensuring Palestinians are not forcibly displaced outside of Gaza.”

He would also discuss ways to “stem violence, calm rhetoric, reduce regional tensions” as well as working towards a “durable and sustainable peace in the Middle East, to include the establishment of a Palestinian state”.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that he was breaking off all contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because of Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip.

In its statement, the State Department did not confirm a meeting between Blinken and the Turkish president, even though it appears likely, according to US officials traveling with him.

In Ankara, the top US diplomat would also discuss Ukraine and the finalization of Sweden’s membership of NATO, long blocked by Turkey, according to the same source.

Erdoğan recently submitted the protocol for Sweden’s accession to NATO to the Turkish parliament after 17 months of deadlock, but the process has not yet been completed.

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