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Blinken to return to Brussels to discuss Russia, Ukraine tensions

Blinken to return to Brussels to discuss Russia, Ukraine tensions
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Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenBiden 'confident' meeting with Putin will take place soon Blinken calls for Taiwan to join World Health Assembly in opposition to China US general warns China is actively seeking to set up an Atlantic naval base MORE will join Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinWill deterrence work, when our foes wage war disguised as peace? Overnight Defense: Former Navy secretary reportedly spent .4M on travel | Ex-Pentagon chief Miller to testify on Jan. 6 Capitol attack | Austin to deliver West Point commencement speech White House posts visitor logs for first time since Obama MORE for discussions at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, regarding Iran, Russia and Afghanistan, a top U.S. official said on Saturday.

The official told Reuters that Blinken's discussions would focus on Iran, Afghanistan, and the ongoing buildup of Russian military forces near its border with Ukraine.

Austin had previously been scheduled to visit Brussels beginning Saturday. The discussions were to include Israel, Germany and Britain.

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Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBiden 'confident' meeting with Putin will take place soon Blinken: US stands with Ukraine in face of Russian aggression Russia keeping 80K troops at border amid NATO exercise, US officials say MORE accused Ukraine of committing “dangerous provocative actions” in the contested Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, further raising fears that Russia could send troops in to support pro-Russian separatists in the region. Reuters reports Russia has amassed more troops in the region than at any time since it annexed Crimea in 2014.

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the secretary's travel plans when contacted by The Hill.

Blinken's reported trip to NATO headquarters would also come as efforts continue in Afghanistan to support the country's fragile government while a deadline for an agreement in which the U.S. withdraws combat troops from the country is set to occur on May 1. President BidenJoe BidenDefense lawyers for alleged Capitol rioters to get tours of U.S. Capitol Sasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE has yet to announce whether the U.S. will meet that deadline.