DUBAI: America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he would be going to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries as he looked to help contain the violence in Gaza.
Speaking in Israel Blinken confirmed he would be visiting the Kingdom, UAE, Qatar and Egypt after first visiting Jordan where he has met with King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Saudi-owned news channel Al Arabiya reported.
“The Secretary will engage regional partners on efforts to help prevent the conflict from spreading, secure the immediate and safe release of hostages, and identify mechanisms for the protection of civilians”, State Department spokesman Matt Miller said in a statement.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the deployment of a US aircraft carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean and the reinforcement of fighter jets.
US Central Command said earlier in the week that the deployment of the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group in the Eastern Mediterranean was to deter any party seeking to escalate the situation or widen the Gaza-Israel war.
The White House later said the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower arrival in the Mediterranean was part of pre-planned mission.
“She certainly will be an available asset if needed,” National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby said.
A senior US defense official also said this week that the increased deployment of US military in the region was intended to serve as a deterrent signal to Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and any other proxy in the region intending to open a second front against Israel.
There have already been cross-border exchanges after rocket attacks by Palestinian factions in Lebanon resulted in Israeli retaliation against Hezbollah targets.
At least three Hezbollah militants have been killed, according to the group.