March 28 (UPI) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Morocco on Monday after meeting with Israeli, Arab and Palestinian leaders over the weekend to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and shore up support from allies.
Blinken was scheduled to meet on Monday with Moroccan foreign minister Nasser Bourita and other senior government officials “to exchange views on regional issues and bilateral cooperation,” as well as “advancing human rights and fundamental freedoms,” according to a statement from the State Department.
President Joe Biden’s top diplomat will also meet with Moroccan Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the capital Rabat to discuss regional security and international developments.
From there, Blinken will travel to Algeria for meetings with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra. Regional security and stability, commercial cooperation, advancing human rights and fundamental freedoms will be discussed there, officials said.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began a month ago, and its influence on the international community will be one of the chief topics of discussion.
“During the course of his trip, the secretary will emphasize to all of the foreign leaders he meets that the United States stands in solidarity with the government and people of Ukraine in the face of the Kremlin’s aggression,” the State Department said in a statement.
“We will continue to work closely with our allies and partners to impose further costs on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his enablers if Putin does not change course.”
Blinken’s visit to Morocco came after he met with Israeli and Arab officials in a rare meeting of Middle East leaders on Israeli soil as tensions between Russia and Ukraine and the threat from Iran hung in the background.
In a whirlwind of meetings in Jerusalem Sunday, Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, foreign minister Yair Lapid, defense minister Benny Gantz, and Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
Blinken also sat down over the weekend with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and representatives of Palestinian civil society in Ramallah in the West Bank.