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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin Begins Middle East Tour

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Jordan on Sunday. This is the first leg of a tour of the Middle East, during which the Pentagon chief will also visit Israel and Egypt. The trip is intended to show support for key US regional allies against the growing threat from Iran, US officials said.

Before leaving, Austin tweeted that he would meet with regional leaders and “reaffirm America’s commitment to strengthening regional stability and advancing the common interests of allies and partners.”

The Pentagon said the main topic of the meetings will be Iran’s growing threat to regional stability and strengthening multilateral security cooperation through the integration of air and missile defense forces.

Central to the discussion will be “the complex of threats posed by Iran,” the Pentagon said in a statement. He explains that these threats include Iran’s arming, training and financing of hostile groups, maritime aggression, cyber threats, drone attacks and a ballistic missile program.

In Israel, Austin is expected to express concern over rising violence in the West Bank, which has alarmed Jordanian and Western leaders, and will discuss diplomatic steps to reduce tensions.

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