Sec. Austin visits Kuwait unexpectedly to honor the late emir

In an unplanned visit to Kuwait on Sunday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin expressed American sympathies for the death of the emir of that nation, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who passed away on Saturday.

Austin left this past weekend on a planned trip to Bahrain, Qatar, and Israel. President Biden declared on Saturday that he will pay his respects to Kuwait by leading a presidential trip there.

Austin, according to Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder, “expressed heartfelt condolences to Sheikh Nawaf’s family and the people of Kuwait on behalf of the Department of Defense” during their meeting on Sunday with Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Ahmad Al Sabah, the Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

Austin revealed that President Biden had asked him to head the American delegation to Kuwait in order to show respect for Sheikh Nawaf’s enduring legacy and to grieve alongside the Kuwaiti people. Ryder said in the statement, “He expressed his willingness to strengthen and expand the defense alliance.

Austin honored the late emir as a “valued partner” of the United States and shared images from his meeting with Kuwaiti authorities on Sunday on X, the previous Twitter platform.

“The Honorable Sheikh Nawaf exhibited a steadfast dedication to diplomacy with the goal of reducing tensions in the Middle East, making him a valued friend and partner of the United States. Austin added, “It is an honor for me to be in Kuwait today to pay my respects and send my condolences to the people of Kuwait and the family of Sheikh Nawaf.”

Since Hamas launched an unexpected attack on Israel’s southern border on October 7, Austin has made two trips to the country. He is scheduled to meet with high-ranking Israeli officials. Ryder said this week that General Charles Brown Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will accompany Austin to Israel. This will be Brown’s first trip to the Middle East since assuming the position.

Additionally, the travel coincides with Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor, meeting with Israeli leaders in Tel Aviv on Thursday.