Thu, 13 May 2021

Blinken Heads Back to Brussels as Afghanistan Decision Looms

Voice of America
13 Apr 2021, 10:35 GMT+10

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed to Brussels Monday evening 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 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.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announces his appointment of Gayle Smith as the new State Department Coordinator for... FILE - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department in Washington, April 5, 2021.

"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.

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 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 U.S. troops leave.

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

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