Secretary of State Blinken meets with Egyptian college students in first stop in Middle East trip

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken kicked off his Middle East trip on Sunday by meeting with Egyptian college students at the American University in Cairo.

Mr. Blinken said he will travel to Jerusalem and the West Bank but wanted to start with a visit to “rising Egyptian leaders.”

His trip takes on added urgency following some of the worst violence in years. On Friday, a Palestinian gunman killed at least seven people outside a synagogue in a Jerusalem neighborhood. Another attack the next day seriously injured two people, officials said.

The Palestinian attacks come after nine people were killed Thursday in an Israel army raid on a refugee camp in the West Bank.

The Israeli Defense Forces said the operation was necessary to stop an imminent attack from an Islamic Jihad terror group armed with explosives and firearms, according to the Times of Israel newspaper.

Mr. Blinken didn’t appear to address the Israel-Palestinian conflict during his talks with the Egyptian students. He said the meeting was set up because they are the future of the partnership between Egypt and the United States.

“That partnership ultimately is going to be built and sustained and strengthened by the people here today and the people that you represent,” said Mr. Blinken, who noted that 60% of Egypt’s population is 25 or younger.

“This is an incredibly dynamic and youthful place,” he said. “You will be the ones making this country and you will be the ones who are carrying forward the relationship with the United States.”

The American Embassy in Egypt established an advisory council of local young people to gauge the thinking of the country’s future, Mr. Blinken said.

“It’s not just designed to advise our team and our ambassador on so-called ‘youth issues.’ It’s designed to advise him and the team on every issue of concern to both our societies,” he said. 

Mr. Blinken will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas following his visit to Egypt. He is expected to call for both sides in the conflict to deescalate the tensions.

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