Blinken to Tour Asia after Latest Mideast Crisis Trip

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the press prior to meeting with African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, at the State Department in Washington, DC, on November 1, 2023. Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP

Washington, United States  -- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Japan, South Korea and India after his latest crisis visit to the Middle East, the State Department said Wednesday, keeping a US focus on Asia.

On the three stops next week, Blinken will "advance collaborative efforts to support a free and open Indo-Pacific region that is prosperous, secure, connected and resilient," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

The trip will come after Blinken's latest trip on Friday to Israel, which has been pounding Hamas after the militants launched a massive October 7 assault inside Israel.

Blinken will also travel to Jordan,  the second Arab state to make peace with Israel, which on Wednesday withdrew its ambassador from its neighbor in protest over the war.

The Middle East crisis as well as the Ukraine war are also expected to figure in Blinken's trip to Japan which is for a meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies.

The State Department said Blinken will meet in Japan with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and later in Seoul with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

South Korea previously announced Blinken's stop in Seoul at which he is set to discuss long-simmering tensions with nuclear North Korea.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will also travel to India to join Blinken for the annual "two-plus-two" talks, which follow a state visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United States aimed at building a fast-growing partnership.

President Joe Biden's administration has prioritized relations with India, seeing a like-minded partner faced with the rise of China, but Blinken's trip could be made awkward by a bitter feud between India and another close US partner -- Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month publicly linked Indian intelligence to the killing near Vancouver of a Canadian citizen who advocated a separate Sikh state carved out of India.

Blinken has called on India to cooperate in the Canadian probe and the State Department voiced concern over Indian moves that led Canada to pull diplomats.

© Agence France-Presse

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