ANKARA: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the situation in Gaza on Monday with Turkiye’s foreign minister, part of Blinken’s efforts to calm regional tensions over the war between Israel and Hamas.

Blinken, who is touring the Middle East region, landed in Ankara on Sunday evening and held talks with Turkiye’s Hakan Fidan on Monday morning followed by a meeting of delegations.

“Today I will meet with (Turkish) government leaders as we seek to prevent the spread of the conflict in Gaza and find ways to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance,” Blinken said in a post on social media platform X.

The meeting between Blinken and Fidan lasted two and a half hours, a US State Department official said. No talks were scheduled between Blinken and President Tayyip Erdogan, who has criticised the US over its “unlimited support to Israel”.

Washington wants to prevent a wider regional conflict and has stepped up diplomacy with countries across the region whose peoples have been angered by Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

Health officials in Gaza said more than 9,770 Palestinians have been killed so far in the war, which began when Hamas killed 1,400 people and seized more than 240 hostages in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Turkiye, a NATO member which supports a two-state solution in the Middle East, has sharply escalated its criticism of Israel as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has deepened. It also hosts members of Hamas, which is viewed as a terrorist organisation by Western countries but not by Ankara.

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