U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is traveling to the Middle East to strengthen Washington’s ties with its regional allies Jordan, Israel and Egypt.
The defense secretary began his Middle East tour in the Jordanian capital, Amman, where he met with King Abdullah II.
The overall purpose of Austin’s three-country regional tour is to convey the U.S. Biden administration’s commitments to its allies.
“Austin will convey enduring U.S. commitment to the Middle East and provide reassurance to our partners that the United States remains committed to supporting their defense,” said a senior American defense official, on condition of anonymity.
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, who led the U.S. forces in the Middle East until 2022, stressed that the region remains important to American interests and that Washington is concerned about China’s expansion into the region.
"I think this trip is an excellent example of an opportunity to continue to tell people in the theater (region) that they remain important to us,” said McKenzie.
While the U.S. has repeatedly articulated its commitment to Israel’s security, the Biden administration has also been vocal about the growing violence and tensions in the West Bank.
“He (Austin) will also be quite frank with Israeli leaders about his concerns regarding the cycle of violence in the West Bank and consult on what steps Israeli leaders can take to meaningfully restore calm before the upcoming holidays," McKenzie said.
Lt.-Gen. Mark Milley, the U.S.’ 20th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently visited Israel to strengthen bilateral military ties between Washington and Jerusalem.
While in Egypt, Austin is expected to express Washington’s concern about Egypt’s systematic human rights violations.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.