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Blinken to Meet With Arab Officials in Saudi Arabia About Israel-Gaza War

U.S.Blinken to Meet With Arab Officials in Saudi Arabia About Israel-Gaza War

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday to speak with top Arab officials and try to figure out possible solutions for the thorniest issues of the Israel-Gaza war, including humanitarian aid, reconstruction and hostages, the State Department said on Saturday.

One of Mr. Blinken’s priorities on Monday and Tuesday will be discussing “ongoing efforts to achieve a cease-fire in Gaza that secures the release of hostages,” a department spokesman, Matthew Miller, said in a statement. He added that Mr. Blinken would underscore his belief that it is Hamas that stands in the way of a cease-fire for the Palestinian people, since the group is not budging on the hostage negotiations.

Saudi Arabia is hosting a three-day meeting of the World Economic Forum, and top Arab officials, including Mr. Blinken’s diplomatic counterparts, are attending. They include senior ministers from Qatar and Egypt, which have been the two Arab mediators in multiple rounds of talks over a potential hostage agreement between Israel and Hamas.

The forum’s website says Mr. Blinken will be in a half-hour public “conversation” starting at 12:45 p.m. on Monday, the final day of the conference.

American officials are pushing for Hamas to release about 40 of the 100 or more hostages it is holding in exchange for the liberation of many more Palestinian prisoners and a six-week cease-fire. U.S. officials say that would be the first step in securing a permanent cease-fire, and Israel supports the proposal. However, Hamas has insisted on a commitment to a permanent cease-fire, and many Arab officials, including in Saudi Arabia, have been calling for the same; those officials say that such a cease-fire should take place immediately.

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