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Blinken to travel to Germany, raising possibility of meeting with Chinese counterpart

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will attend a prominent European security conference this week that will overlap with the travel of his Chinese counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The secretary’s travel raises the possibility of a face-to-face meeting with Wang. Blinken canceled a high-stakes trip to Beijing in the wake of the Biden administration’s discovery and destruction of a Chinese spy balloon transiting the U.S.

Blinken will attend the Munich Security Conference on Thursday, the State Department said in a statement, “where he will participate in a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings” that will focus on support for Ukraine amid Russia’s war and assistance to Turkey and Syria in the wake of a devastating earthquake last week.

The statement did not specify Blinken’s agenda but said discussions will include U.S. “commitment to transatlantic security and a rules-based international order.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday confirmed that Wang would travel to the Munich Security Conference.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Blinken is considering meeting Wang at the Munich conference, citing anonymous sources, but said no meeting had been set or confirmed.  

Blinken called off a planned trip to Beijing following the discovery of the Chinese surveillance balloon that U.S. officials had been tracking since Jan. 28. Tensions between the U.S. and China have peaked in the wake of the balloon’s discovery. Beijing apologized for the balloon but said it had accidentally diverted into American airspace. 

The U.S. has rejected China’s claims that the balloon was a civilian, unmanned airship and said that it has uncovered a sophisticated aerial surveillance program operated by Beijing across dozens of countries. 

U.S. officials have stressed that Blinken’s trip to Beijing was only postponed but said conditions would need to be right for him to reschedule a trip to China.

Beyond Munich, Blinken will travel to Turkey to see firsthand U.S. efforts to assist earthquake recovery efforts. He’ll meet with Turkish officials in Ankara before traveling to Athens to participate in the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue, among other meetings. 

Source: The Hill

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