US Defence Secretary starts Middle East tour

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin (File Photo) KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/ AFP

U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Jordan on Sunday at the start of a Middle East tour that will also take him to Israel and Egypt in a show of support for its main regional allies, U.S. officials said.

Austin wrote on Twitter before his departure that he would meet key leaders and "reaffirm the U.S. commitment to regional stability and advancing the shared interests of our allies and partners."

The U.S. Defence Department said ahead of the visit that discussions would focus on advancing multi-lateral security cooperation with integrated air and missile defences.

In Israel, Austin will also raise his concerns about a surge in violence in the West Bank that has alarmed Jordan and Arab leaders and discuss diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions ahead of Muslim and Jewish religious holidays, U.S. officials said.

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