Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) receives US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (Saudi Press Agency)

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that he discussed with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman the efforts made to increase urgent humanitarian aid and ensure its access to those who need it in Gaza.

Blinken - who arrived yesterday, Monday, in Saudi Arabia, the first stop on his new tour in the Middle East - added that he would "continue engaging in diplomacy in the region to limit the expansion of the conflict."

The US State Department confirmed in a statement that the meeting discussed the urgent need to reduce regional tensions, including stopping Houthi attacks.

Before the visit, Blinken stressed the need to “urgently respond to the humanitarian needs in Gaza,” after relief groups repeatedly sounded the alarm about the devastating repercussions of the war, which is approaching its fifth month, on the besieged Strip.

The official news agency "SPA" reported that during the meeting, they "reviewed aspects of bilateral relations and prospects for joint cooperation, in addition to discussing developments in regional situations and the efforts made towards them in order to achieve security and stability."

Blinken is expected to discuss - during his visit to the region - a truce proposal for the war between the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Israel in the Gaza Strip, which was discussed during a meeting held by senior American, Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari officials in Paris last month.

Blinken's tour continues until Thursday, and is his fifth in the region since the start of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. It also includes Qatar, Egypt, Israel, and the West Bank.

Armistice proposal

Israel continued the attacks and threatened a new ground invasion into the city of Rafah, where more than half of the Gaza Strip's population - 2.2 million people - are crowded on the Strip's southern border with Egypt, and live in temporary tents.

Sources familiar with the talks said that the ceasefire proposal includes a truce for at least 40 days, during which the resistance factions will release prisoners from among the remaining 253 hostages they took to Gaza on the seventh of last October.

But Hamas confirmed that no agreement had yet been reached, while some Israeli officials expressed their opposition to any concessions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stresses that he is committed to achieving what he called “complete victory” and that any cessation of fighting will only be temporary, as long as Hamas fighters are at large, he said.

Hamas says it will not agree to a truce or release the hostages unless it receives guarantees that Israel will withdraw from Gaza and end the war.

The head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, said last week that he would travel to Cairo to present his response to the ceasefire proposal, but Hamas did not set a date for his trip.

A Palestinian official familiar with the negotiations told Reuters that Hamas' response may come "soon," but it is up to Blinken to urge Netanyahu to make concessions that would complete the agreement.

Since the seventh of last October, the Israeli army has been waging a devastating war on the Gaza Strip with American support, which as of Monday left 27,478 martyrs and 66,835 injured, most of them children and women, according to the Palestinian authorities, and caused massive destruction and an unprecedented humanitarian disaster, according to the United Nations. United.

Source: Al Jazeera + agencies