US Defense Secretary To Visit Southeast Asia Later In July - Pentagon


US Defense Secretary to Visit Southeast Asia Later in July - Pentagon

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 20th July, 2021) US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to three Southeast Asian nations later this month in the first visit by a senior Biden administration official to the area, Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement.

"Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III departs on a trip Friday, July 23 to visit Alaska, Singapore, Hanoi, and Manila," Kirby said on Monday.

Austin will participate in the Fullerton Lecture Series hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies while in Singapore, and will meet with key leaders about defense relationships throughout the trip, the release said.

The visit echoes the National Security Council's call for a more robust US approach to the Indo-Pacific region that includes more cooperation with Southeast Asia, Nikkei Asia reported earlier. Kirby, in the release, said that Austin will underscore the US commitment to a rules-based international order.

Austin's trip to Southeast Asia will take place amid ongoing tensions between Washington and its allies versus Beijing in the South China Sea. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed last Monday that an attack on the Philippines' armed forces would invoke US mutual defense commitments to them.

Later on Monday, the Chinese military warned off a US destroyer operating in the South China Sea, saying the ship was trespassing.

On Friday, US President Joe Biden talked during an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries meeting about the need for strengthened multilateral cooperation in the region. Biden reiterated the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and discussed opportunities to deepen US trade ties in the region.