Blinken visits Middle East over ceasefire

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading for Israel, the West Bank, Egypt and Jordan in a bid to keep a ceasefire in place between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The ceasefire began on Friday. It put an end to deadly violence between the two sides earlier this month. Egypt mediated the deal at the request of the United States.

The US State Department said in a statement on Monday that Blinken is traveling to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo and Amman from Monday through Thursday. It said he will meet separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and others.

The statement also said that Blinken will have discussions with them on efforts to consolidate the ceasefire and reduce risks of further conflict over the coming months.

US President Joe Biden said in a statement on Monday that Blinken's trip will show his country's "ironclad commitment to Israel's security" and its support for the Palestinian people and leaders "after years of neglect."

Meanwhile, a senior state department official told reporters that the US "remains committed to the two-state solution." The official also said that for now, the US is "focused primarily on ensuring that the ceasefire sticks."