Austin cancels important NATO meeting

He is scheduled to go back to work on Tuesday
Austin cancels important NATO meeting

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After the US Secretary of Defense, who was suffering from cancer, had to go to the hospital again at the weekend and ultimately even to the intensive care unit, he is scheduled to go back to work on Tuesday. However, the 70-year-old cannot travel to Brussels.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has canceled his participation in important meetings on Ukraine and NATO due to health problems. Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said in Washington that he would not travel to Brussels this week as planned. According to the information, a meeting of the international contact group to coordinate weapons aid for Ukraine on Wednesday will now take place virtually.

Austin will attend if he can. At the NATO defense ministers’ meeting on Thursday, he will be represented by the US ambassador to NATO, Julianne Smith. The politician, who was suffering from prostate cancer, was admitted to hospital on Sunday with an acute bladder problem and was transferred to the intensive care unit after a series of tests and examinations. He handed over his duties to deputy Kathleen Hicks.

The attending physician at Walter Reed Military Hospital near Washington said on Monday that Austin had undergone a non-surgical procedure under general anesthesia. He will continue to be observed overnight, but a longer stay is not expected. It is assumed that he will be able to return to work on Tuesday. The prognosis for his cancer remains excellent.

Biden “in no way” doubts his ability to exercise his office

The 70-year-old defense minister made his illness public in mid-January, but came under criticism because he initially kept both the diagnosis and a hospital stay as a result of complications from an operation secret. Even US President Joe Biden did not know for several days that his defense minister was in the hospital.

Austin apologized for the lack of transparency. Asked whether the president had concerns that Austin would no longer be able to hold office because of his health problems, White House communications director John Kirby replied Monday: “Not at all.”

This time the Pentagon informs immediately

On Sunday, the Pentagon informed the public just two hours after Austin was hospitalized again. His admission to the intensive care unit came “after a series of tests and evaluations,” the ministry said. Austin is there for “supportive treatment and close monitoring.”

The White House and Congress have been informed, the Pentagon said. Deputy Minister Hicks took over Austin’s official duties effective Sunday at 5 p.m. local time (11 p.m. CET), Pentagon spokesman Ryder announced. Just a few hours earlier, however, Ryder had stated that Austin had taken the necessary protected communications systems with him to the hospital in order to continue to fulfill “the tasks and duties of his office” from there.

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