USA | Feb 12, 2024

U.S. Defence Secretary Austin cancels travel after hospitalisation

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin holds a bilateral meeting with NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., January 29, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters): U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has cancelled a trip to Brussels where he was set to take part in meetings with other NATO defence ministers, a U.S. official said on Monday, after the Pentagon chief was admitted to a critical care unit and had to transfer his duties to his deputy.

Austin, 70, was taken to Walter Reed Military Medical Center on Sunday for “symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue”. Austin had failed to disclose a prostate cancer surgery in December and a subsequent hospitalisation in January to deal with its complications.

Austin was set to depart for the NATO meeting of defence ministers in Brussels and a separate meeting with allies on how to continue supporting Ukraine in countering Russia’s invasion.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the meeting on Ukraine’s defence needs, known as the Ukraine contact group, would be held virtually.

It was unclear how long Austin would remain in the hospital, but he has transferred his duties to Deputy Secretary of Defence Kathleen Hicks.


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