WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Humanitarian issues in Gaza will be a top priority for U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on his current trip to the region, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday.

Blinken was en route to the Middle East in a trip that will include stops in Israel, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the West Bank this week.

A top priority for Blinken on this trip will be to get humanitarian help for Gaza Palestinians who are in dire straits after months of military response from Israel to the deadly Oct. 7 attacks in Israel by Hamas.

“The needs of the Palestinian people are something that are going to be front and center,” Sullivan told the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

The United States believes it is vital to secure a deal to release the remaining hostages Hamas took during its attack, including American hostages, and an accompanying humanitarian pause, Sullivan said.

“This is in the national security interest of the United States. We are going to press for it relentlessly,” Sullivan said. “So this is a paramount priority for us.”

The ball is in the court of Hamas when it comes to such a deal, Sullivan said, noting that the Israelis have put forth a proposal.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Louise Heavens and Will Dunham)

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