Blinken to head back to European allies after Biden trip

Blinken to head back to European allies after Biden trip
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The State Department announced Friday that Blinken will spend a week in Europe, a trip set to begin with participation in an international conference on Libya, and including talks with the leaders of Germany and France.
Blinken's return to Europe comes days after President Joe Biden's trip [AFP via Getty]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will head back to Europe next week days after President Joe Biden's first trip, further cultivating ties with allies France, Germany and Italy and taking up hotspots including Libya.

The State Department announced Friday that the top US diplomat will spend a week in Europe that will include talks with two of the continent's key leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Blinken will begin his visit in Berlin with participation Wednesday in an international conference on Libya, which is inching toward stability after a decade of war with elections planned for December 24.

Both Germany and France had rocky ties with Biden's mercurial predecessor Donald Trump, who berated Europeans on trade, defense and immigration policy.

The trip by Blinken - a fluent French speaker who grew up partly in Paris - will be the first to France by a senior member of the Biden administration.

Blinken will seek progress on another major global issue in Rome as he joins Italy in leading a conference of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group, which has branched out in Africa as well as Afghanistan after being decimated in Syria.

In the historic southern Italian city of Matera, Blinken will participate in a meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of 20 major economies - which includes two of the main US nemeses, China and Russia, potentially offering the opportunity for meetings.

Blinken at the G20 will "reinforce the US commitment to multilateralism and discuss continued cooperation in combatting the Covid-19 pandemic, addressing the climate crisis and building back better with our global partners, with a focus on Africa," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Biden visited Britain, Belgium and Switzerland on his maiden presidential trip in a bid to show greater transatlantic unity in the face of a rising China after Trump's chaotic presidency.

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Biden, who took part in Group of Seven and NATO summits, proposed a Western-backed alternative to China's prolific infrastructure spending and resolved a long-running row between the United States and European Union on aviation.

Biden also used the trip to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration has said it is open to meetings with China, which the United States has identified as a pre-eminent rival on the world stage.

Blinken met senior Chinese officials in March in Alaska in a visibly tense meeting.