Blinken and Austin to visit Gulf to address postwar stresses

Blinken and Austin to visit Gulf to address postwar stresses
In this March 18, 2021, file photo U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, left, speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks on during their meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: The US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will see how the failed war in Afghanistan may be reshaping America’s relationships in the Middle East as they meet with key allies in Europe and the Persian Gulf this week.

Blinken and Austin are traveling to the Gulf separately, leaving the US on Sunday. They will talk with leaders who are central to American efforts to prevent a resurgence of extremist threats in Afghanistan, some of the countries were partners in the 20-year fight against the Taliban.

Together, the Blinken and Austin trips to the Gulf and Europe are meant to reassure US allies in the Gulf that President Biden’s decision to end the US war in Afghanistan in order to focus more on other security challenges like Russia and China does not foretell an abandonment of US allies in the Middle East.

For decades, the US military has had a presence in the Gulf, including the Navy’s 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain.

President Joe Biden hasn’t suggested ending that presence, but he — like the previous Trump administrations — has called China the Number 1 security priority, along with strategic challenges from Russia.

In the hours after the last US forces left, Mr Biden said: “There’s nothing China or Russia would rather have, would want more, in this competition than the United States to be bogged down another decade in Afghanistan.”

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