Nov. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Turkey on Monday in his continued campaign to keep the Israel-Gaza conflict from spreading to a regional battle.
Blinken touched down in Turkey Sunday night ahead of meetings with Turkish leaders at what he called a "consequential time for stability and security in the region."
"I will meet with government leaders as we seek to prevent the spread of conflict in Gaza and find ways to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance," he said.
The State Department said that Blinken met with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and both sides agreed on "the critical importance of protecting civilians and ensuring humanitarian assistance reaches civilians in Gaza" while also emphasizing the importance of U.S.-Turkish relations.
The pair met for about two and half hours, according to Turkey's Anadolu Agency.
The Youth Union of Turkey, angered by the United States' support of Israel, protested Blinken's visit outside the Turkish Foreign Ministry building, waving Palestinian and Turkish flags.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not meet with Blinken, as officials said he was visiting family in his hometown of Rize.
Over the weekend, Erdogan condemned Israel's continued bombardment of Gaza and suspended talks it had planned with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Turkish nongovernmental organization Humanitarian Relief Foundation staged a protest outside the southern Incirlik Air Base, where U.S. troops are located, on Sunday. Protesters were met with water cannons and police in riot gear when they tried to storm the air base.
Before arriving in Turkey, Blinken made an unannounced trip to the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Sunday to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders.
Blinken spoke with Abbas about the efforts to reduce civilian casualties, get more humanitarian aid into the area, and "efforts to restore calm and stability in the West Bank, including the need to stop extremist violence against Palestinians and hold those accountable responsible," according to a State Department meeting readout.