New Telegraph

Anthony Blinken To Meet Turkish, Greek Leaders As Gaza Negotiations Begins

The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken is scheduled to meet with the leaders of Turkey and Greece, marking the beginning of a week-long visit intended to reduce the heightened tensions in the Middle East that have been there since Israel’s war with Hamas started in October.

The top diplomat of the Biden administration will begin his negotiations with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Istanbul. Later, he is to meet with President Tayyip Erdogan, who is a vocal opponent of Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

The talks in Turkey are also expected to cover Turkey’s process to ratify Sweden’s membership of NATO, according to a senior State Department official travelling with Blinken.

U.S. officials have been frustrated by the lengthy process but are now confident that Ankara will soon approve Sweden’s accession to the alliance after the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs commission backed the bid last month, said the U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

U.S. lawmakers have held up the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey until it signs off on the addition of Sweden to the alliance. Sweden, which along with Finland, applied to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, would become the alliance’s 32nd member. Finland joined last year.

Blinken will later travel to the island of Crete to meet Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Fellow NATO member Greece is awaiting the approval by the U.S. Congress of a sale of F-35 fighter jets.

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Blinken will continue in the coming days to Arab states, Israel and the occupied West Bank, where he will deliver a message that Washington does not want a regional escalation of the Gaza conflict.

The war began when Palestinian Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 hostages.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed 22,600 Palestinians, according to Palestinian officials, and the conflict has spilt into the West Bank, Lebanon and Red Sea shipping lanes.

In addition, Blinken wants to forward discussions about possible governance for Gaza in the event that Israel succeeds in eliminating Hamas.

According to the sources, Washington hopes that Turkey and other neighbouring nations will help with security, governance, and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip, which Hamas has controlled since 2007.

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