German FM to travel to Middle East next week

Baerbock will travel to Israel Monday immediately after a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. (Photo: AP)
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. (Photo: AP)

BERLIN, GERMANY (AFP) - German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will visit the Middle East next week, Berlin said Friday, as the Gaza war grinds on and fears grow of a wider regional conflict.

Baerbock will travel to Israel Monday immediately after a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

On arrival in Israel, Baerbock -- who has visited the region several times since the start of the Israel-Hamas war -- will give a speech at the Herzliya Security Conference.

On Tuesday, she will hold talks with Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Mustafa in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.

Baerbock will also meet with the Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz in Jerusalem.

Subsequently, Baerbock will travel to Lebanon for talks with officials in Beirut, including the migration minister.

Baerbock's discussions with officials would focus on "the war in Gaza and the continuing catastrophic humanitarian situation", as well as "the question of what a future could look like that allows Israelis and Palestinians to live together in safety", the ministry spokeswoman said.

"In the Palestinian territories, the situation in the West Bank will also be a focus, as will the reform efforts of the Palestinian Authority," the spokeswoman said.

"The particularly tense and dangerous situation on the border between Israel and Lebanon," would also be discussed on the trip.

More than eight months of war, sparked by Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, have led to dire humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian territory and repeated UN warnings of famine.

The October Hamas attack on Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

The militants also seized hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza although the army says 41 are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive in Gaza has killed at least 37,431 people, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory.