WASHINGTON (AP) – Foreign Minister Antony Blinken will travel to India and Kuwait next week for talks on China, the coronavirus and Afghanistan, the State Department said on Friday.
The trip comes as the Biden administration seeks to shore up U.S. leadership in vaccinating the world against COVID-19, attempting to dampen rising Chinese self-esteem, and evacuating people at risk from Afghanistan before the U.S. military withdrawal is complete is.
The Foreign Ministry said Blinken will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday before traveling to Kuwait City the next day.
India is an important part of US efforts to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price said the Delhi agenda will include “COVID-19 response efforts, Indo-Pacific engagement, shared regional security interests, shared democratic values and tackling the climate crisis.”
Kuwait is one of several countries, along with Qatar, that are viewed as potential hosts for thousands of Afghans who worked for the United States and who plan to be relocated to the United States by the end of August before American troops are fully withdrawn from Afghanistan.
The Biden administration hopes to evacuate approximately 4,000 Afghans who have served as translators and other support roles for US forces in Afghanistan and their families to US military bases in third countries while their visas are being processed.
In addition, there are around 2,500 Afghans who have already completed a security clearance and will be housed at the Fort Lee military base in Virginia from next week until their visas have been approved.
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