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The State Department says the Air Force is sending a replacement plane to Switzerland to bring Secretary of State Antony Blinken home Wednesday after the aircraft he was traveling in was unable to take off due to a “mechanical issue.”
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the incident happened after Blinken left Davos, where he was attending the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting.
“There’s a mechanical issue. I don’t know the nature of the mechanical issue, but he is in Zurich. He was scheduled to fly back from Zurich,” Miller said. “The Air Force has a replacement plane inbound. We expect him to be back still tonight. But several hours later than originally planned.”
According to Bloomberg, his aircraft, a modified Boeing 737, suffered a critical error after an oxygen leak was detected and it was not immediately fixable. The aircraft was subsequently deemed unsafe to fly.
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Antony Blinken waves to the press at the end of his visit to Cairo as he boards the plane on January 11, 2024, on his way back to Washington, D.C., following a week-long trip to the Middle East aimed at calming tensions across the region. (EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The update came hours after Blinken spoke during a Davos panel, where he called for stability in the Middle East and said the region was at “an inflection point” that requires hard decisions. He also projected confidence that a resolution could be made to end the Israel-Hamas war.
“We’re in the midst of what is human tragedy in so many ways in the Middle East right now — for the Israelis and Palestinians alike,” Blinken said.
During his remarks, he reiterated the need for a “pathway to a Palestinian state” and said Israel would not “get genuine security absent that.”
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“The problem is getting from here to there, and of course, it requires very difficult, challenging decisions. It requires a mindset that is open to that perspective,” Blinken said.
Blinken smiles at an event of the World Economic Forum (WEF). (Hannes P Albert/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Blinken said Israelis would need to decide on their leadership and direction, saying it’s up to them whether the country can “seize the opportunity that we believe is there.”
Blinken (L) speaks with Foreign Affairs columnist Thomas Friedman during a meeting as part of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on January 17, 2024. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
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Prior to the Davos trip, Blinken spent a week-long trip to the Middle East aimed at calming tensions across the region.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.