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US’ Blinken Visits Japan For G7 Summit on Gaza

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken disembarks an aircraft as he arrives at Yokota Air Base ahead of the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Tokyo on November 7, 2023. (Photo by JONATHAN ERNST / POOL / AFP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Japan on Tuesday for a conference of G7 foreign ministers to seek a common position on Gaza, as calls for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict grow.

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Blinken made no public comments as he landed in Tokyo for two days of talks following his recent whirlwind tour to the Middle East.

The Israeli military has been mercilessly bombarding Gaza since October 7, when Hamas militants launched an attack in Israel that killed 1,400 people, the majority of them were civilians, according to Israeli authorities.

The death toll in Gaza has topped 10,000 people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, including almost 4,000 children.

The United States, a crucial ally of Israel, has resisted calls for a ceasefire, arguing that Israel has the right to retaliate — though Washington has called for pauses in the conflict.

Blinken said in Turkey on Monday that Washington was working “very aggressively” to expand relief to besieged populations.

“I think we will see in the days ahead that the assistance can expand in significant ways,” Blinken added, without providing details.

According to the White House, US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the possibility of “tactical pauses” on Monday.

But, on Monday, Netanyahu warned that the fight to eliminate Hamas would not be paused.

France was the only G7 country to vote in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution calling for an urgent “humanitarian truce” last month.

The United States voted no, while Japan, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, and Canada all abstained.

France said in a statement announcing Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna’s attendance in Tokyo that the conference will focus on “the need to respond to the needs of civilian populations in Gaza and to respect international humanitarian law.”

Colonna “will reiterate our condemnation of the terrorist actions of Hamas and the imperative of releasing the hostages,” the statement added.

German counterpart Annalena Baerbock said the G7 would “discuss how we can achieve humanitarian pauses together to alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza.”

“For me it is clear that the Hamas terrorists have brought infinite suffering to Israel and the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza with the horrific attacks of October 7. Hamas cannot be allowed to determine the fate of the people in the Gaza Strip,” she added.

Valerie Niquet from the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS) told AFP that any joint G7 call for a humanitarian truce would be “without binding language and in general terms”.

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