U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Asia on Tuesday to seek help from the Group of Seven (G7) amid an ongoing crisis in Gaza and Israel, as well as other global issues including the war between Russia and Ukraine, North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile technologies, and China’s aggression toward Taiwan and its other provocations in the South China Sea.
Fresh from a pair of tours through the Middle East — where Blinken largely ended empty-handed after meeting with leaders in Israel, Palestinian territories, Jordan and Syria, without scoring peace — the senior official is shifting his diplomacy toward Asia to forge consensus on how to deal with the crises.
Blinken and foreign ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Italy began two days of talks in Tokyo, saying it was critically important for the group to show unity and to prevent the Gaza war from further destabilizing already shaky security in the broader Middle East.
‘This is a very important moment as well for the G7 to come together in the face of this crisis and to speak, as we do, with one clear voice,’ Blinken told Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, shortly after talks with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa said Japan ‘unequivocally condemns’ the Hamas’ attack on Israel, supports U.S. efforts to find a way forward, and said that ‘solid unity between Japan and the U.S. is especially critical at this point.’
‘We appreciate the diplomatic efforts of the U.S. in the recent situation between Israel and Palestine,’ she said. ‘You have our utmost support.’
Following Secretary Blinken’s meeting with Prime Minister Kishida, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Japan pledged to provide humanitarian care to Gaza, where the Gaza Health Ministry has said more than 10,000 Palestinians have died since Hamas invaded Israel on Oct. 7.
‘Secretary Blinken and Prime Minister Kishida reaffirmed their commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to continuing to provide Ukraine the support it needs to defend its independence and protect its people. The Secretary also thanked the Prime Minister for Japan’s pledge to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. The Secretary reaffirmed the United States’ ironclad commitment to the defense of Japan,’ the statement read.
The meetings, which are expected to last through Wednesday, are expected to include conversations on how to push Israel to agree to ‘pauses’ in its military operation to allow that assistance to get in and more civilians to get out.
Blinken described all of these as ‘a work in progress’ and acknowledged the G7 and larger international community have deep divisions over a pause.
Israel remains unconvinced that it would do any more than help Hamas regain its composure and plan additional attacks. Meanwhile, Arab and Muslim nations are calling for an immediate full cease-fire, which even the U.S. opposes.
Blinken arrived in Tokyo from Turkey, concluding his four-day blitz through the Mideast. Blinken also visited Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, Cyprus and Iraq.
The secretary of state will leave Japan later this week and will travel to South Korea and then to India.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.