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Top US defense official to visit Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries next week

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The Pentagon announced Friday that US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin would visit several Gulf countries next week, including Saudi Arabia.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that Austin would leave Washington on Sunday and visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

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Austin will meet with US service members based in the Gulf and voice Washington’s commitment to US defense relationships in the region.

The top US defense official will be making his first trip to the Gulf since the US evacuation process started in Afghanistan.

Qatar has played a crucial role in facilitating evacuees from Afghanistan. Doha is also home to the Al-Udeid Air Base, the biggest US base in the Middle East.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and State Department Spokesman Ned Price reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to helping Saudi Arabia defend its people and territory.