Hillary Clinton headed to the Middle East

Hillary Clinton headed to the Middle East

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has decided to alter her Asia plans and head to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo in an attempt to help resolve the escalating conflict in Gaza.

"Her visits will build on American engagement with regional leaders over the past days – including intensive engagement by President Obama with [Israeli] Prime Minister [Bibi] Netanyahu and [Egyptian] President [Mohamed] Morsi – to support de-escalation of violence and a durable outcome that ends the rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns and restores a broader calm. As President Obama noted in his conversations with President Morsi, we commend Egypt’s efforts to de-escalate the situation and are hopeful that these efforts will be successful," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.

"She will emphasize the United States’ interest in a peaceful outcome that protects and enhances Israel’s security and regional stability; that can lead to improved conditions for the civilian residents of Gaza; and that can reopen the path to fulfill the aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis for two states living in peace and security. She will continue to express U.S. concern for the loss of civilian life on both sides."

Obama spoke with Netayahi and Morsi on Monday. Clinton spoke Monday with Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, who traveled to Gaza to express solidarity with Gazans. Clinton, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani, and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davotoglu.

Reports from Cambodia, where Obama and Clinton traveled to attend the a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the East Asia Summit, said that Obama decided late Monday to dispatch Clinton following more calls with Middle East leaders about the crisis.

"This morning, Secretary Clinton and the president spoke again about the situation in Gaza and the they agreed that it makes sense for the secretary to travel to the region so Secretary Clinton will depart today," Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told The New York Times. "Her visits will build on the engagement that we’ve undertaken in the last several days… It’s in nobody’s interest to see an escalation of the military conflict."