Blinken heads to Brussels for talks on Afghanistan, Ukraine

Blinken heads to Brussels for talks on Afghanistan, Ukraine

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department in Washington on Apr 5, 2021. (Photo: AP/Al Drago)

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads to Brussels on Monday (Apr 12) for his second trip within weeks to consult NATO allies as a decision looms on the war in Afghanistan.

Blinken is also expected to discuss intensifying EU-backed diplomacy on reviving the Iran nuclear accord and rising tensions with Russia as it builds up its military near Ukraine.

He will start talks on Tuesday in Brussels and be joined by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is also visiting key European ally Germany as well as Israel, which is critical of the diplomacy with Iran.

"I look forward to productive conversations with allies on a wide range of shared priorities. We are stronger when we work together," Blinken tweeted as the State Department announced the trip.

Spokesman Ned Price said Monday that Blinken would use the visit “to reaffirm the US commitment to the Transatlantic alliance as a critical partnership for achieving our mutual goals”.

READ: Blinken warns of China's 'increasingly aggressive actions' against Taiwan

Under an agreement reached by former president Donald Trump with Taliban insurgents, the United States promised to remove all troops from Afghanistan by May 1.

President Joe Biden has promised to go ahead and end America's longest war within the year but has said that the May 1 deadline is not realistic.

The Biden administration is seeking progress on a political agreement that can improve the chances of stability in Afghanistan once US troops leave.

Blinken traveled to Brussels last month for similar discussions. Amid coronavirus restrictions on international travel, he has only taken one other international trip -- to Japan and South Korea alongside Austin, part of Biden's emphasis on coordinating with allies.

Source: Agencies/jt

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