US Defense Secretary to visit Middle East in coming days: Pentagon

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin holds a briefing in Tbilisi on October 18, 2021. (AFP)

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will head to the Middle East this weekend, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.

“This weekend, Secretary Austin will depart on a planned, multi-day visit to the US Central Command (CENTCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR),” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said.

Without elaborating on which countries Austin would visit, Ryder said the trip would allow the secretary to meet with leaders and several key partner nations to “reaffirm the enduring US commitment to the Middle East region.”

Speaking at a press briefing, Ryder said talks would also focus on ways to work closely to increase regional security and stability and deter potential threats.

Last month, senior US officials from the Biden administration took part in security meetings in Riyadh to discuss Iran and other common threats.

Officials said these meetings were a sign that claims that Washington was looking to distance itself from the Middle East were inaccurate.

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