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Turkey: Blinken wraps up Mideast tour with tepid, if any, support for pauses in Gaza war

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan,at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Nov. 6, 2023.   -  
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Jonathan Ernst/AP


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Ankara on Monday (Nov. 04).

It's the latest stop on Blinken's diplomatic push since the conflict between Israel and the Hamas escalated on October 7th leading to the death of about 1,400 Israelis at least 9,448 Palestinians.

The war threatens to have broad repercussions on Washington's relations with Turkey -- a NATO member.

Washington is anxious to see Turkey's parliament finally ratify Sweden's stalled drive to join the US-led NATO defence organisation.

The United States has also been tightening sanctions against Turkish individuals and companies that are deemed to be helping Russia evade sanctions and import goods for use in its war on Ukraine.

And Ankara is upset that Congress is holding up the approval of a deal backed by US President Joe Biden to modernise Turkey's air force with dozens of US F-16 fighter jets.

No consensus in sight despite grueling Middle East tour

On Sunday (Nov. 05), Blinken met with the President of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West-Bank

Also on Sunday, the U.S. top diplomat arrived in Baghdad, highlighting the importance of coordinating efforts to deliver essential supplies.

Blinken met Iraqi Prime minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani to discuss the Gaza war and attacks on American troops by Iranian-allied militias in Iraq.

The deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza was also addressed.

Meanwhile, Iraq's influential religious leader Muqtada al Sadr urged his followers to condemn the visit.

The US shuttle diplomacy aims at limiting the regional fallout from the war in Gaza and overcome what has been Israeli Prime Minister's refusal to consider a U.S. proposal for intermittent pauses in its attack on Hamas long enough to rush vital aid to Gaza's civilians.

Netanyahu had pushed back Friday (Nov. 03) against the U.S. pressure to start implementing pauses in the fighting, saying there would be no temporary cease-fire until Hamas releases some 240 foreign hostages it is holding.

“This is a process,” Blinken told reporters on the matter Sunday (Nov. 05). “Israel has raised important questions about how humanitarian pauses would work. We’ve got to answer those questions,” including how pauses would affect Hamas hostages. "We’re working on exactly that.’’

Blinken's mission, his second to the region since the war began, has found only tepid, if any, support for his efforts to contain the fallout from the conflict. Israel has rejected the idea of pauses while Arab and Muslim nations are instead demanding an immediate cease-fire as the casualty toll soars among Palestinian civilians under Israeli bombardments of Gaza.

Arab states are resisting American suggestions that they play a larger role in resolving the crisis, expressing outrage at the civilian toll of the Israeli military operations and believing Gaza to be a problem largely of Israel’s own making.

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