Blinken stresses importance of concluding Israeli probe into reporter's killing

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U.S. Secretary of State Blinken holds news conference with Finland's Foreign Minister Haavisto in Washington
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By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Friday to Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and stressed the importance of concluding Israel's probes into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

"Secretary Blinken underscored the importance of concluding the investigations into the death of Palestinian-American Shireen Abu Akleh," the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

The Palestinian Authority said on Thursday its investigation showed that Abu Akleh was shot by an Israeli soldier in a "deliberate murder." Israel denied the accusation and said it was continuing its own investigations.

Abu Akleh was shot dead on May 11 while she was covering an Israeli military raid in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. She had been wearing a helmet and a press vest that clearly marked her as a journalist.1

Israeli police officers, on May 13, charged at Palestinian mourners carrying the coffin of Abu Akleh, before thousands led her casket through Jerusalem's Old City in an outpouring of grief and anger over her killing.

The Israeli army had said previously that she might have been shot accidentally by one of its soldiers or by a Palestinian militant in an exchange of fire.

Palestinian Attorney General Akram al-Khatib told reporters on Thursday that its enquiry showed there had been no militants close to Abu Akleh when she died.

Abu Akleh had covered Palestinian affairs and the Middle East for more than two decades. Qatar's Al Jazeera TV Network, which also says Israel had killed the reporter, said it would refer the killing to the International Criminal Court.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler and Alistair Bell)

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