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Washington D.C./01.11.23/Turan:    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is headed back to the Middle East today, his second to the region in less than a month, as tensions remain high amid escalating war in Gaza, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.

Blinken will begin his trip in Tel Aviv with a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters on Wednesday.

The Secretary will "reiterate U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism consistent with international humanitarian law and discuss efforts to safeguard U.S. citizens, work to secure the immediate release of hostages, increase the pace and volume of humanitarian assistance entering Gaza for distribution to Palestinian civilians, and prevent the conflict from spreading," as the Department put it.

Blinken then will stop In Jordan, where he will "underscore the importance of protecting civilian lives and our shared commitment to facilitating the increased, sustained delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza, the resumption of essential services, and ensuring that Palestinians are not forcibly displaced outside of Gaza,"Miller saif.

He will also discuss urgent mechanisms to stem violence, calm rhetoric, reduce regional tensions, and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to working with partners to set the conditions necessary for a durable and sustainable peace in the Middle East, to include the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Blinken is also expected to stop by Ankara on Sunday, according to several media reports. However, when asked by TURAN during a daily briefing, Miller was unable to confirm that leg of the trip. "We will make further announcements as they’re available in the coming days."

The announcement on Blinken's trip came as the U.S. confirmed the first of its citizens were able to leave Gaza via the Rafah crossing into Egypt.

Miller confirmed that “an initial group” of American citizens were among foreigners who crossed into Egypt, but did not offer a number.

Alex Raufoglu

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