US Defence Secretary to visit Germany

Lloyd Austin

Washington: US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin will visit Germany next week as part of a foreign tour that will also take him to Israel, the UK and the NATO headquarters in Belgium.

Austin will be the first of US President Joe Biden’s cabinet to travel to Germany, reports dpa news agency.

He will meet Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Foreign and Security Policy Adviser Jan Hecker, the Pentagon said in a statement on Thursday.

The talks aim to reinforce the value the US places on the bilateral defense relationship with one of our closest NATO Allies, the Pentagon said.

There will also be discussions on combating the malign influence of our shared strategic rivals, and continued dialogue on US force posture in Germany and elsewhere.

The administration of former President Donald Trump had outlined plans to withdraw some of the US troops stationed in Germany, but the project has been halted by Biden.

Austin will also visit US European Command and US Africa Command headquarters in Germany to meet with US troops and senior commanders.

Austin kicks off his tour in Israel on Saturday where he will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Benjamin Gantz.

His trip will also include a stop in Brussels, where Austin will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

At the close of his tour, Austin will meet British Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace, the Pentagon said.