Pentagon chief Austin starts visit to Israel, Germany, UK, Belgium

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to Israel, Germany, Britain and the Nato headquarters in Belgium in the coming week for talks with government and military leaders, the Pentagon announced on Thursday. Austin will leave Washington on Saturday, but the dates for his stops in each country were not given.

In Israel he will meet PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Benny Gantz, where discussions will cover "shared priorities" and reaffirm Washington's commitment to Israel maintaining military superiority over its neighbours, according to a Pentagon statement, cited by AFP.

In Europe, he will hold talks with German defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Chancellery Foreign and Security Policy Adviser Dr Jan Hecker, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and British defence minister Ben Wallace.

The trip coincides with rising tensions between Israel and Iran just as the Biden administration tries to engage Teheran over returning to the nuclear pact effectively torn up by former president Donald Trump.

In Europe it comes as Russia has sent shivers across the continent with the massing of a troops and war equipment along its border with Ukraine.

 

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