Blinken Heads to Japan, South Korea, India after Middle East Visit

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will head to Japan, South Korea and India next week after his meetings in the Middle East to advance efforts to “support a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

Senior U.S. officials told reporters on Thursday that the United States maintains its focus on the Indo-Pacific region, despite grappling with other global challenges, including Israel’s war with Hamas and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

G7 foreign ministers will meet in Tokyo November 7-8. Blinken will hold talks with his G7 counterparts and have separate talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Foreign Minster Yoko Kamikawa.

“We anticipate that discussions in those meetings will focus on events in the Middle East, support for Ukraine, cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, a range of bilateral issues, and of course trilateral cooperation” with South Korea, said Daniel Kritenbrink, the State Department’s assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

While Blinken has met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin on other occasions, he will hold his first face-to-face talks in Seoul with both next week.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the alliance between the U.S. and South Korea. Kritenbrink said the military cooperation between North Korea and Russia and its security implications will be high on the agenda of Blinken’s talks. Washington and Seoul have vowed to enhance joint deterrence against growing threats from Pyongyang.

From Seoul, Blinken will travel to New Delhi.

“Secretary Blinken will be in India on November 10. He will be joined by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. They will be traveling to India for the annual 2+2 Dialogue,” said Donald Lu, the State Department’s assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs.

The U.S. delegation will meet with India’s Minister for External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh, and other senior Indian officials.

The U.S.-India 2+2 Dialogue began in 2018 and has allowed the two countries to have high-level discussions about strategic and defense issues. In recent years, a key part of the 2+2 Dialogue has been defense co-production with India.

India has condemned the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel as “a terrorist attack” and has called for sustained humanitarian access to Gaza.

“With India, we share the goals of preventing this conflict from spreading, preserving stability in the Middle East, and advancing a two-state solution,” said Lu.

Source : VOA News