U.S. Diplomat Antony Blinken visits Egypt on Middle East tour to bolster Israel-Hamas cease-fire

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May 26 (UPI) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Egypt on Wednesday to meet with officials, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who helped negotiate a cease-fire to end 11 days of fighting between Israel and militant group Hamas in Gaza.

The Egypt stop is the latest leg of Blinken’s three-day diplomatic jaunt through the Middle East, which began in Israel on Tuesday. He met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin and later with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

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After meeting with Abbas, Blinken announced that U.S. President Joe Biden will ask Congress for $75 million for development and economic aid for Palestinians in Gaza.

“The U.S. is providing more than $360 million of urgent support for the Palestinian people,” Blinken tweeted Wednesday. “We will galvanize the international community to make more aid available for humanitarian and development efforts.”

During the Egypt stop Wednesday, Blinken met in Cairo with al-Sisi and foreign minister Sameh Shoukry. Both men were instrumental in brokering the Gaza cease-fire last week.

The truce took effect Friday and ended days of deadly fighting between Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist group the United States designates as terrorist. The Israeli bombing campaign killed more than 230 people, mostly Palestinians.

Blinken said Egypt and Jordan are central players in trying to bring peace to the region. He will visit Jordan on Thursday before returning to the United States.

In a call with al-Sisi on Monday, Biden thanked Egyptian officials for their “successful diplomacy” to achieve the cessation of hostilities in Gaza.

Blinken will not meet with Hamas leaders during his Middle East trip. Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian Authority operates in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Blinken said at the start of the trip that Biden sent him to work for peace in the region and review reconstruction and humanitarian needs.

Scenes from fighting in Israel, Gaza

Palestinians inspect their destroyed homes following the cease-fire between Gaza and Israel in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo