Blinken cuts short Asia trip due to COVID, Thailand visit canceled

Dec 16 , 2021. 11 hours ago – 23:07 KYODO NEWS

Screenshot taken from video footage shows U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken making a speech in Indonesia on Dec. 14, 2021. (Antara/Kyodo)

KUALA LUMPUR – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has cut short his Southeast Asia trip due to a COVID-19 case among his traveling party and will not visit Thailand, the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok said Wednesday.

The embassy said Blinken spoke with Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai by phone, expressing his “deep regret” for being unable to meet with him on Thursday.

It said the decision was taken “to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and to prioritize the health and safety of the U.S. traveling party and those they would otherwise come into contact with.”

Blinken, who met with his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah in Putrajaya earlier Wednesday, would be returning to Washington “out of an abundance of caution” after having also visited Indonesia as well as Britain to participate in a Group of Seven ministerial meeting.

Earlier Wednesday, the U.S Embassy in Malaysia said it had informed the country’s government of a single positive COVID-19 case in the traveling party.

Blinken was in Indonesia the previous two days.

The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta tweeted Wednesday that “all members of the traveling press tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday afternoon after arrival in Jakarta.”

Cr.KYODO NEWS