US defense secretary to visit Bahrain, Qatar, Israel next week

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrives in Tel Aviv, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photos/Lolita Baldor)
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrives in Tel Aviv, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photos/Lolita Baldor)

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will visit Israel next week as the Biden administration maintains a near-weekly shuttle of top officials visiting the region to coordinate with Israel in its war against Hamas.

Defense Department spokesperson Pat Ryder says in a briefing that Austin will use next week’s visits to Bahrain, Qatar and Israel to advance the Pentagon’s objectives in the war — protecting US forces in the region, supporting Israel’s right to self-defense, securing the release of hostages and ensuring that the crisis doesn’t escalate into a broader regional conflict.

Austin’s trip will come days after US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan visited Israel. Last week, US Vice President Kamala Harris’s national security adviser Phil Gordon was in town and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Israel the week before that.

This will be Austin’s second trip to Israel since the outbreak of the war.

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