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Top US diplomat to meet with Israel’s new FM this weekend: Official

Published: Updated:

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will on Sunday hold his first meeting with Israel’s new Foreign Minister Yair Lapid since he took office, a US official said.

Lapid, a centrist who engineered a coalition that brought down veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu, will fly to Rome to meet Blinken on an ongoing trip to Europe, the official said Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

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The two are likely to discuss US hopes to solidify a fragile ceasefire reached last month between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which attacked the Jewish state with rockets in response to what it saw as provocations in the holy city of Jerusalem.

President Joe Biden’s administration has quickly moved to shore up ties with the new Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a nationalist.

Biden’s Democratic Party had rocky relations with Netanyahu, who campaigned against former president Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and has drawn fury from the US left over his embrace of far-right elements.

Blinken is also likely to speak to Lapid about ongoing negotiations in Vienna to return to the nuclear deal.