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Blinken Visits Mideast, North Africa to Tackle Ukrainian War, Iran, Peace Deals

Blinken Visits Mideast, North Africa to Tackle Ukrainian War, Iran, Peace Deals

Saturday, 26 March, 2022 - 10:30
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (File Photo: Reuters)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel next week to the Middle East and North Africa where he will discuss a range of regional and global priorities, including Ukraine, Iran, the Abraham Accords and normalization agreements with Israel, preserving the prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and building support for the UN’s engagement on Western Sahara.


“Blinken is going to travel to Israel, the West Bank, Morocco, and Algeria from March 26th to March 30th,” the State Department said.


Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert said that during the course of this trip, the Secretary will emphasize to all the foreign leaders he meets with that the US stands in solidarity and support with the government and people of Ukraine.


“This region – the Middle East and North Africa – has seen the damaging effects of Russia’s military campaigns that have exploited conflicts for Moscow’s own selfish interests,” Lempert said.


She noted that Putin’s invasion is already causing food prices – especially wheat – to rise, just as our economies recover from the COVID pandemic.


Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, and Tunisia import at least a quarter of their wheat specifically from Ukraine.


During his trip, Blinken will also discuss Iran, which is an issue that is of great interest to all of Washington’s partners in the region.


This will be his second visit to Israel and the West Bank as Secretary, but his first visit to Morocco and Algeria since he became Secretary.


During his visit to Israel and the West Bank, the Secretary will underscore the US ironclad commitment to Israeli security, coordination on Ukraine and Iran, and work to build upon the gains from the Abraham Accords, said Lempert.


In Ramallah, she said the Secretary will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as well as with representatives of Palestinian civil society.


Blinken will also hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and with President Isaac Herzog.


“Blinken will affirm the commitment of the United States to a two-state solution, and to greater freedom, security, and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis alike,” Lempert said, adding that the issue of the US consulate general in Jerusalem will undoubtedly be a topic of discussion in the Secretary’s meetings both in Israel and the West Bank.


In North Africa, the Secretary will first visit Morocco, where he will meet with Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and other senior government officials to exchange views on regional issues and bilateral cooperation, and on advancing human rights and fundamental freedom, and he also will engage with Moroccan youth.


While in Rabat, the Secretary will also meet Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss regional security and international developments.


In Algiers, he will meet President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and his Algerian counterpart, Ramtane Lamamra, to discuss regional security and stability, commercial cooperation, and advancing human rights and fundamental freedom.


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