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AFP
April 13, 2021

Blinken heads back to Brussels as Afghanistan decision looms

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AFP
April 13, 2021

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads to Brussels Monday 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 will be joined by Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is also visiting key European ally Germany as well as Israel, which is critical of the diplomacy with Iran. “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 go ahead and 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 US troops leave.

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