US, Greece, France, Turkey all fear Gaza conflict embroiling rest of West Asia
US secretary of state Antony Blinken is on a week-long diplomatic visit across the Middle East, where different nations have different stances on Hamas and Israel both
US secretary of state Antony Blinken visited Turkey and Greece on Saturday, 6 January, to kick off a week-long diplomatic push across the Middle East.
The goal of the trip—Blinken's fourth since October 2024—is aimed at preventing the regional escalation of the war in Gaza.
"It is vital that we engage in this diplomacy now both for the sake of the future of Gaza itself and, more broadly, for the sake of the future for Israelis and Palestinians and for the region as a whole," Blinken said.
"There is clearly a strong desire among the majority of people in the region for a future that is one of peace, of security, of de-escalation of conflicts, of integration of countries," he added.
Turkey's foreign minister Hakan Fidan reiterated calls for an immediate ceasefire that would allow the "uninterrupted" flow of aid into the besieged territory.
Later, in Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Washington and Athens stood together in pushing for peace in the region.
Blinken is set to visit a number of Arab countries next, including Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
His tour will also include stops in Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
US warship downs drone launched from Yemen
US Central Command said on Saturday that it had shot down a drone launched from a Yemeni area controlled by Houthi rebels.
It said the aircraft was shot down over international waters in the Red Sea in the vicinity of multiple commercial vessels.
The Iranian-backed Houthi militants have stepped up attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea in protest against the Israel–Hamas war.
Several shipping lines now prefer to sail around Africa to avoid the Red Sea.
The Houthis have vowed to continue attacks until Israel halts the conflict in Gaza and warned that they would attack US warships if the militia group itself was targeted.
French foreign minister tells Iran to cease 'destabilising actions'
French foreign minister Catherine Colonna told her Iranian counterpart that "Iran and its affiliates" must stop "destabilising actions" that could spark a broader conflict in the Middle East amid the war in Gaza.
During a telephone call with Iran's foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, Colonna 'delivered a very clear message: the risk of regional conflagration has never been so great; Iran and its affiliates must immediately cease their destabilising actions. Nobody would win from escalation', according to a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Iran backs a broad network of militias and armed groups in the Middle East, including Hamas and Hezbollah.
Both Hamas and Hezbollah's military wing are considered terrorist groups by several countries, including the US and the European Union.
Blinken discusses Gaza, Sweden's NATO accession in Turkey
US secretary of state Antony Blinken discussed on Saturday, 6 January, the war and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza with Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan.
Blinken is in Turkey as part of a wider regional tour, amid the escalating conflict in the Gaza Strip.
The Turkish foreign ministry added in a social media statement that the two diplomats also discussed bilateral and regional issues, without going into details. It posted a photo of Blinken and Hakan shaking hands during the meeting.
Blinken also met Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit. Talks were expected to focus on the Gaza war and Turkey's request for US fighter jets.
Turkey's stance on the war in Gaza has stood out from its NATO allies. Ankara has been vocally critical of Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip.
Though many countries consider the Palestinian militant group Hamas a terrorist organization, including the US, Germany and the EU, Turkey does not. President Erdogan even argued that Hamas was not a terrorist group, but rather a "liberation group".