Blinken to meet with Indo-Pacific allies in Australia, Hawaii next week
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will participate next week in a security meeting of partner countries in the Indo-Pacific, the so-called Quad that includes the U.S., Australia, Japan and India.
The meeting comes ahead of an expected trip by President Biden in the spring to meet with Quad members, Reuters reported.
While Quad nations stress the informal alliance is not focused on countering any one nation, the grouping is largely viewed as coordinating strategy to compete with and defend against China’s ambitions in the region.
The Quad meeting, set to be held between Feb. 9 and 12, comes as all four countries are carrying out a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing due to criticisms of China’s human rights record, including allegations of genocide, and amid increased military provocations from North Korea.
Following the meeting in Australia, Blinken will host on Feb. 12 the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan in Hawaii to discuss the threats from North Korea. Blinken will then separately meet with South Korea’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Commander Adm. John Aquilino.
The trilateral meeting in Hawaii will “deepen” cooperation between the U.S., Korea and Japan “in addressing threats from the [North Korea] nuclear and missile programs and confronting 21st century challenges together across the globe,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Ahead of the meeting in Hawaii, Blinken will also stop in Fiji to meet the prime minister, the first visit by a secretary of State since 1985, Price said.