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US moves to reengage Europe in person after Trump snubs

Matthew Lee
Associated Press

Washington – America’s top diplomat is heading to Europe next week as the Biden administration moves to restore closer U.S. ties with European and NATO allies after four years of snubs and tension under former President Donald Trump.

The State Department announced Friday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Brussels for the administration’s first in-person talks with transatlantic leaders. It said Blinken would focus on concerns over Afghanistan, China, Iran and Russia, climate change, cybersecurity, terrorism and energy security.

“The meetings in Brussels reaffirm the United States’ commitment to our allies and European partners on our shared agenda,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong bump elbows during a joint press conference on March 18, 2021 in Seoul, South Korea.

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Blinken’s trip is centered on the annual spring meeting of NATO foreign ministers but will also include talks with top EU and Belgian officials.

The Biden administration has placed great emphasis on repairing relations with U.S. allies around the world, including in Europe, where Trump had strained them with a series of demands ranging from increasing defense spending to trade and cooperation on threats posed by Russia and China.

The trip to Brussels will be Blinken’s second overseas journey since becoming America’s top diplomat. He will return to Washington early Saturday from Japan, South Korea and Alaska. In Anchorage, he and national security adviser Jake Sullivan held contentious talks with top Chinese officials in which they maintained the U.S. is forging a common front with allies against Russia and China.