In his trip to Asia next week, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to discuss with Beijing and Tokyo ways they can help degrade and defeat the Islamic State extremists, a senior State Department official said.
Blinken, a former deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama, is to be received at high levels of government in Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul.
The official said that talks in Beijing would focus on the economy, as well as immediate security challenges like North Korea, Iran and the threat posed by violent jihadism, including the Islamic State group.
IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, has over the past year publicly beheaded American, British and Japanese civilians kidnapped in Syria. In its latest brutal execution, the extremist group burned alive a captured Jordanian military pilot.
China’s economy has grown and more Chinese companies and workers operate overseas, giving China “a growing stake in global security,” the official said. “That has brought about an openness and increased willingness on the part of China both to consult and to cooperate with the U.S. beyond on the Asian-Pacific region.”
Blinken will most likely also address the extremist jihadist threat during talks in Tokyo.
Japan is not involved in the U.S.-led military efforts against the Islamic State group, but the Japanese government and agencies have provided a significant amount of humanitarian aid and development work in the Middle East, including some $200 million to help refugees from Syria and Iraq. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said that assistance will not stop despite the beheading of its two nationals, Kenjo Goto and Haruna Yukawa, by IS extremists.
The U.S. official said it was reasonable to expect that Blinken would solicit Tokyo’s thoughts on “what further steps Japan envisages taking in support of the effort that they are already embarked on.”
Japan is one of the countries expected to send a representative to an international conference on countering violent extremism to be hosted by Obama later in February.