US Secretary of State Blinken to visit Middle East, senior official says

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Middle East soon, a senior State Department official said Wednesday.

His destinations are believed to include Israel and neighboring countries.

He is expected to speak with officials there on negotiations for the release of hostages held by Hamas and a pause in fighting between Israel and the Islamic group. They will also likely discuss ways to manage the Gaza Strip after the fighting ends.

Another topic is expected to be the attack on a US outpost in Jordan in late January, leading to the death of several American service members.

Blinken will also likely urge countries to work to prevent tension from rising in the region as the anti-government Houthi group in Yemen has repeatedly attacked ships sailing in the Red Sea.

It would be Blinken's fifth visit to the Middle East since the current conflict between Israel and Hamas began in October.