US Secretary of State leaves for Middle East trip to shore up cease-fire

Iran tells IAEA it is extending nuclear monitoring deal for a month

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WASHINGTON- The United States’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken departs Monday for a Mideast trip aimed at consolidating the cease-fire that brought 11 days of deadly bombardment between Israel and Hamas to a halt.

“Secretary Blinken will meet with Israeli leaders about our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement.

“He will continue our administration’s efforts to rebuild ties to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years of neglect.”

On the other hand, Iran has informed the UN nuclear watchdog that it has decided to extend a monitoring deal with the agency for a month, Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Monday, according to the Etemad website.

“The Director General of the IAEA today has been informed about Iran’s decision … The data from the last three months are still in the possession of Iran and will not be handed over to the IAEA. The data of the next month will remain only with Iran according to the agreement,” Gharibabadi was quoted as saying.

Iran said on Sunday that a three-month monitoring deal between Tehran and the IAEA had expired and that IAEA access to images from inside some Iranian nuclear sites would cease.

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