US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin cancels a trip to NATO after being hospitalized NATO News
Austin was hospitalized in the intensive care unit due to complications from prostate cancer.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin canceled his trip to Brussels to meet with NATO ministers and work on military aid to Ukraine after being hospitalized with complications from prostate cancer, according to US officials.
Austin, 70, was transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Sunday due to “symptoms indicating an emergency bladder problem,” the Pentagon said.
Doctors said in a statement on Monday that Austin underwent non-surgical procedures under general anesthesia to address the bladder problem.
“A prolonged stay in hospital is not expected. We expect the minister to be able to resume his normal duties tomorrow,” his doctors said in a statement.
“The current bladder problem is not expected to alter his expected full recovery,” the statement said. “His cancer prognosis remains excellent.”
Austin was scheduled to travel to Brussels on Tuesday to attend a regular meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a group of about 50 countries, to coordinate military aid to Kiev. Two US Defense Department officials told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity that this meeting will now be held virtually.
After the Ukraine meeting, Austin was scheduled to attend a regular meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels as well. It was not immediately clear whether Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, to whom Austin transferred his duties, would attend that meeting instead.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Monday that President Joe Biden has no concerns about whether Austin can serve after his recent hospitalization.
His latest hospitalization was announced publicly shortly after he was transferred to the Military Medical Center by his security detail.
Austin had failed to disclose his prostate cancer surgery in December and its aftermath Treatment in hospitals in January to deal with complications. This month, the Cabinet secretary apologized for failing to tell Biden and senior staff of his cancer diagnosis, adding that the health scare was a “punch in the stomach” that shook him.
He is scheduled to testify before Congress on February 29 about the secrecy surrounding his first hospitalization.
His trip to Brussels would have come at a critical time in Europe.
The narrowly divided US Senate is close to passing $95.3 billion Aid package Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan on Sunday, showing undiminished bipartisan cooperation despite growing opposition from Republican hardliners and former US President Donald Trump to continue aid to Ukraine.
The legislation includes $61 billion for Ukraine, which Kiev sees as crucial as it approaches the second anniversary of Russia’s large-scale invasion as the front lines in eastern and southern Ukraine have remained largely static for months.
Trump, who is seeking to return to power in the November presidential election, sparked a firestorm of criticism from the White House and senior Western officials over the weekend for suggesting that he would not defend NATO members who failed to spend enough on defense, but rather encourage… that. Russia to attack them.
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