US Defence Secy Austin resumes duties after medical procedure; set to hold talks with Chinese counterpart in Singapore

May 25, 2024

Washington, DC [US], May 25 : US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin is planning to hold talks with Chinese Defence Minister Admiral Dong Jun in Singapore on the sidelines of a security conference, the Pentagon said Friday.
Austin will depart next week for a visit to Singapore, Cambodia, and France, the Department of Defence said in a statement on Friday.
Austin will meet in person with his Chinese counterpart for the first time since November 2022. He had last met then Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe during the ASEAN Defense Minister's Meeting-Plus in Phnom Penh in November 202 for the (ADMM-Plus).
Earlier in April, the US defence secretary held discussions via video teleconference with Admiral Dong Jun.
The announcement of the Austin's vist to the Indo-Pacific area came ahead of statement by the Pentagon that he will undergo a medical procedure.
Later on Friday Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder in an update said that Austin underwent a successful, elective, and minimally invasive follow-up non-surgical procedure related to his bladder issue at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Later on Friday Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder said that . During that period, Deputy Secretary of Defence Kathleen Hicks assumed the functions and duties of Austin.
"Secretary Austin subsequently resumed his functions and duties as the Secretary of Defence at 8:25 p.m. ET and has returned home," the Pentagon press secretary said.
Meanwhile, Austin's upcoming visit, which marks his tenth trip to the Indo-Pacific comes at a time of heightened tensions with respect to Taiwan.
Following the August 2022 visit of the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, relations between the US and China had become frozen. Both countries have subsquently worked to bring in a thaw.
The Department of Defence continues to strengthen US relationships with allies and partners in support of a shared regional vision for peace, stability, and deterrence, the Pentagon said.
US President Joen Biden held a summit in San Francisco with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in November 2023.
During his upcoming trip, Austin is planning to meet bilaterally with other counterparts from across the Indo-Pacific region.
In Singapore, Austin will deliver plenary remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue defence forum in Singapore.
Lloyd Austin and Dong Jun, who was appointed in December, will meet at the Shangri-La Dialogue defence forum in Singapore.
He is slated to meet with Singapore's new Prime Minister and other senior Singaporean officials, convene a multilateral meeting of his counterparts from Southeast Asia, and participate in a Trilateral Ministerial Meeting (TMM) with his counterparts from Japan and the Republic of Korea.
While in Cambodia, Austin will meet with senior officials following his November 2022 visit to Phnom Penh. Austin will conclude his trip in France, where he will mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day by participating in several commemorative events, the US Department of Defence said.