Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel together to Japan and South Korea next week to rally democratic allies in the Indo-Pacific in an effort to more effectively confront and compete with China’s rising influence there, the Biden administration announced Wednesday.
The joint visit represents the administration’s first major foreign travel.
The Austin-Blinkin trip will occur days after President Biden partakes in a head-of-state level virtual summit with his own counterparts in Japan, India and Australia — three countries that make up the so-called “Quad” alignment with the United States. Administration officials have said they hope to strengthen the alignment between the region’s powerful democracies.
Questions about North Korea and the Biden administration’s as-yet-uncertain policy for addressing the ongoing North Korean nuclear threat are likely to dominate behind-the-scenes meetings during the visit.
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