Blinken Is Set to Return to Brussels for More NATO Meetings
(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to return to Brussels next week for more meetings with NATO and European officials, according to people familiar with the matter, as the U.S. grows increasingly concerned about Russian troop movements near Ukraine.
The meetings will take up most of the week, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing plans that haven’t been made public. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will be in Brussels at the same time, for a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
A person familiar with the matter said that, separate from the NATO talks, Blinken would meet with European officials. The situation in Ukraine was very likely to be on the agenda, the person added, but would not dominate it. The talks, the person said, would encompass several challenges faced by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Blinken traveled to Brussels in late March on his first trip to Europe after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate. That visit was intended to assure allies that President Donald Trump’s “America First” era was over and the U.S. was fully committed to NATO. Trump often criticized the alliance and complained that European countries were not paying enough for their defense.
The State Department declined to comment.
Earlier this week, Russia announced the beginning of mass military drills, heightening concerns about the risk of new clashes along the country’s border with Ukraine that could lead to a broader conflict. Some 13,000 people have died in seven years of combat.
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Ukraine is just one of the many foreign policy problems confronting President Joe Biden and his administration. China’s latest threats against Taiwan have generated widespread concern. The U.S. also faces a May 1 deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan under a deal the Trump administration made with the Taliban, though Biden has made clear he won’t meet that timeframe.
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