blinken meets saudi crown prince on mideast push for pause in gaza war

The top U.S. diplomat spoke with Saudi Arabia’s de factor ruler as he sought to broker a pause in the fighting. His visit came the same day a drone struck a Syrian base used by U.S. forces and their allies.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken began a diplomatic push in the Middle East on Monday for a deal that would pause the war in the Gaza Strip and release the hostages there, even as a drone struck a military base used by American troops and allied forces in eastern Syria.

Mr. Blinken, making his fifth trip to the region since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, met in Riyadh with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in the first stop on a trip that will also include meetings in Egypt, Qatar, Israel and the West Bank.

Speaking with the crown prince, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Mr. Blinken “underscored the importance of addressing humanitarian needs in Gaza and preventing further spread of the conflict,” the State Department said. It added that they discussed “an enduring end to the crisis in Gaza that provides lasting peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Mr. Blinken is hoping to hammer out an agreement that could temporarily stop the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, secure the release of the remaining hostages there in exchange for Palestinians detained in Israeli jails, and allow more desperately needed aid into the territory.

A picture taken from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip shows smoke rising over buildings in Khan Younis following Israeli bombardment on Monday.Said Khatib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But even as Mr. Blinken sought to ease tensions in the region, a drone struck a base in eastern Syria that has housed American and allied troops, killing six Kurdish fighters, according to the official media outlet of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led group.

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