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U.S.'s Blinken to turn to Europe next week, attend NATO ministerial

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he boards a plane at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea March 18, 2021. Lee Jin-man/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Brussels next week to meet with NATO foreign ministers and European Union officials, the U.S. Department of State said on Friday as the Biden administration seeks to repair transatlantic ties.

At the NATO meeting, Blinken will join other foreign ministers to discuss proposed changes to the transatlantic organization as well as concerns over China and Russia, climate change, cyber and energy security and other issues, the department said.

Blinken will also meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery, and efforts to strengthen democracy, it said.

“The meetings in Brussels reaffirm the United States’ commitment to our Allies and European partners on our shared agenda,” the department said in a statement.

The trip comes weeks into Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration and follows four years of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric toward the alliance.

Trump repeatedly accused the European members of the military alliance of not spending enough on their own defense.

Reporting by Susan Heavey and Jan Wolfe; editing by John Stonestreet