Blinken to Mideast as Ukraine war complicates US diplomacy

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks after viewing the "Burma's Path To Genocide" exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Monday, March 21, 2022. Blinken says the violent repression of the largely Muslim Rohingya population in Myanmar amounts to genocide. The declaration on Monday is intended to both generate international pressure and lay the groundwork for potential legal action. (Kevin Lamarque, Pool via AP) (Kevin Lamarque)

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Mideast and North Africa next week as the Biden administration strives to keep allies and partners united in opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine, the State Department said Thursday.

With U.S. diplomacy facing serious tests on Ukraine and a range of Middle East regional issues, the department said that Blinken will visit Israel, the West Bank, Morocco and Algeria starting this weekend.

In Israel, Blinken plans to press Israeli officials on support for the Ukrainian government, seek their thoughts on potential mediation with Russia to end the conflict and update them on the status of the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna. The administration's efforts to promote an Israeli-Palestinian peace dialogue will also be on the agenda.

In Morocco and Algeria, Blinken will discuss the importance of the role that smaller states can play in backing Ukraine’s sovereignty, as well as the U.S. interest in Arab nations continuing to normalize and expand their relations with Israel. While in Rabat, Blinken will also meet with the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, a longtime U.S. partner in the Gulf that recently attracted Washington's ire by hosting a visit by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“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.