Blinken in the Middle East as Ukraine war complicates US diplomacy

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will visit the Middle East and North Africa next week as the Biden administration seeks to unite allies and partners in opposing Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Faced with serious testing of U.S. diplomacy on various regional issues in Ukraine and the Middle East, the department said Blinken would visit Israel, the West Bank, Morocco and Algeria starting this weekend.

In Israel, Blinken plans to pressure Israeli officials into supporting the Ukrainian government, seeking their views on possible mediation with Russia to end the conflict, and will update them on the status of Iran’s nuclear talks in Vienna. The administration’s efforts to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace dialogue will also be on the agenda.

In Morocco and Algeria, Blinken will discuss the importance of the role that small states can play in supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty, as well as the US interest in normalizing and expanding Arab relations with Israel. While in Rabat, Blinken will also meet with the UAE’s foreign minister, a longtime US partner in the Gulf who has recently drawn the attention of Washington by hosting a visit by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The State Department said in a statement that the secretary-general would urge all foreign leaders he meets to show solidarity with the Ukrainian government and people in the face of the Kremlin’s aggression.

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