Blinken adds Bahrain to his travel itinerary

October 13, 2023

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was set to travel to Bahrain on Friday, adding another stop to his multinational trip through the Middle East amid the Israel-Hamas war. 

Blinken was visiting Doha, Qatar on Friday morning, hours after that country and the United States agreed to cut off Iran from $6 billion in funds that had been unfrozen last month as part of a prisoner swap for five wrongfully detained Americans. Qatar had been charged with overseeing the money’s use strictly for humanitarian purposes as a stipulation of the swap agreement.

In an interview with NBC Thursday, Blinken repeated U.S. assertions that there’s no “direct evidence” linking Iran to Hamas’ massive attack on Israel this past Saturday. However, U.S. officials have stated that Iran was complicit in the assault, in that its clerical rulers have stoked violence by supplying arms to Hamas. 

Ahead of traveling to Qatar, Blinken met with King Abdullah II in Amman, Jordan on Friday.

A day earlier, Blinken visited Israel, where he reiterated the United States’ unwavering support, telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint address in Tel Aviv, “We will always be there by your side.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to Israel Friday, where he met with his counterpart, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

During a news conference in Tel Aviv Blinken said, “Across each of these engagements, we’ll continue pressing countries to help prevent the conflict from spreading, and to use their leverage with Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release the hostages.”

Hamas is holding as many as 150 people hostage in locations across Gaza, according to the Israeli ambassador to the United States. Hamas has threatened to execute a hostage every time an Israeli airstrike hits Gazans in their homes.

Blinken added during his news conference, “We’ll also discuss how we can continue to make real our affirmative vision for a region that’s more peaceful, more prosperous, more secure, more integrated. And in fact, that is the choice, and the choice in some ways has been made even more stark by the actions of Hamas on Saturday..”

PHOTO: Antony Blinken news conference in Tel Aviv Thursday

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