U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to stop in Hawaii next week after a trip to Australia and Fiji, when he plans to push back on “aggression and coercion” in the Indo-Pacific region, a sign the administration is keeping China high on its agenda even as it finds itself focused on the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
The meeting next week in Melbourne involving the Quad group of nations — the U.S., Australia, Japan and India — will seek to solidify and institutionalize the informal grouping, Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Kritenbrink told reporters in Washington today.
Though officials didn’t mention China, Beijing has criticized the U.S. for building “small cliques” and “inciting bloc confrontation” when Blinken traveled to the region in the past.
Blinken’s travel will also take him to Suva, Fiji, where leaders from 18 nations have been invited for discussions that will touch on issues ranging from climate change to maritime security and illegal fishing, Kritenbrink said. The visit to Fiji will be the first by a U.S. secretary of state since the 1980s, he added.
Finally, Blinken will stop in Hawaii for meetings with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts. Talks there will likely center around North Korea’s recent flurry of missile launches.