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Blinken to travel to Israel, other key Middle Eastern countries amid stalled hostage and ceasefire negotiations

<i>Susan Walsh/AP via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Saudi Arabia to meet with regional partners as talks between Israel and Hamas remain deadlocked. In this photo
Susan Walsh/AP via CNN Newsource
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Saudi Arabia to meet with regional partners as talks between Israel and Hamas remain deadlocked. In this photo

By Samantha Waldenberg, Jennifer Hansler and Sam Fossum, CNN

(CNN) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia this week to meet with regional partners as talks between Israel and Hamas remain deadlocked, the State Department announced over the weekend.

“The Secretary will discuss ongoing efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza that secures the release of hostages and how it is Hamas that is standing between the Palestinian people and a ceasefire,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement Saturday announcing Blinken’s plans to visit Saudi Arabia. “The Secretary will also emphasize the importance of preventing the conflict from spreading and discuss ongoing efforts to achieve lasting peace and security in the region, including through a pathway to an independent Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel.”

Despite months of talks mediated by Qatar and Egypt, Hamas and Israel have failed to reach an agreement on a deal aimed at releasing hostages and implementing a ceasefire in Gaza.

The State Department announced Sunday that the top American diplomat will also travel to Israel and Jordan. “He will discuss the recent increase in humanitarian assistance being delivered to Gaza and underscore the importance of ensuring that increase is sustained,” Miller said in an updated trip announcement.

A senior State Department official told reporters traveling with Blinken on Sunday that he will meet with Saudi officials and foreign ministers from the region regarding the future of Gaza.

When he heads to Jordan and Israel, Blinken’s focus will be on humanitarian assistance, the official said. President Joe Biden’s top diplomat will meet with aid organizations and Jordanian government officials to get an update, which he will take to Israeli officials.

Blinken’s trip, set for Monday through Wednesday, comes after he met with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last month in Jeddah to discuss efforts to release the hostages held by Hamas.

While in Riyadh, Blinken will also hold bilateral meetings regarding Saudi Arabia normalizing ties with Israel, according to the State Department official.

Blinken told CNN on Friday that it could be possible to roll out a framework for the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia along with a two-state solution proposal for Israel and the Palestinians before a ceasefire is in place.

“Ceasefire or not, we’ll continue to make these possibilities known. But in order to actually realize this, there’s going to have to be an end of the conflict in Gaza,” he said in an interview with CNN’s Kylie Atwood. “And as I said, there’s also going to have to be a resolution to the Palestinian question, or at least an agreement on how to resolve it.”

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Simone McCarthy contributed to this report.

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