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Blinken excludes Israel from Middle East trip

June 3, 2023 at 12:35 pm

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during the bilateral peace negotiation closing session with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijan Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov at the George Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, Virginia, United States on May 04, 2023 [Celal Güneş – Anadolu Agency]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has excluded Israel from a planned visit to the Middle East, an Israeli political source revealed, noting this could relate to Iran’s nuclear issue.

Blinken will travel to Saudi Arabia 6-8 June to meet with Saudi officials to discuss US-Saudi strategic cooperation on regional and global issues and a range of bilateral issues including economic and security cooperation,” a US State Department press release disclosed.

“On 7 June, the Secretary will also participate in a US-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Ministerial to discuss the growing cooperation with our GCC partners to promote security, stability, de-escalation, regional integration and economic opportunities across the Middle East,” the press release added.

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It continued: “On 8 June, the Secretary will co-host a Ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh to highlight the critical role played by the D-ISIS Coalition to address the continuing threat of ISIS (Daesh) and reaffirm our commitment to ensure its enduring defeat.”

Visiting Israel was part of the agenda of Blinken’s trip to the Middle East, but The Times of Israel reported an Israeli official saying the US State Department: “Moved away from the idea [of visiting Israel] shortly after realising there was not enough time in his schedule.”

The Jerusalem Post reported a senior Israeli official indicating: “It is impossible to ignore the timing for cancelling Blinken’s visit.”

He added: “It could be merely technical as Washington is trying to exclude Iran’s nuclear file from its agenda until after the elections. The US administration recognised that solving Iran’s nuclear issue could not happen without military action in Iran.”

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