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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Latvia and Sweden next week to attend Transatlantic and European security meetings and hold bilateral talks, the State Department said on Friday.
The trip, which will take place between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2, comes at a time of rising tension between Russia and the Western military alliance following a build-up of Russian forces near the border with Ukraine.
While in Riga, Blinken will attend a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and hold bilateral talks with NATO counterparts. In the Swedish capital Stockholm, ministers from members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will discuss concerns about the Europe-Eurasia region's security environment, the State Department said.
U.S., NATO and Ukrainian officials have raised the alarm in recent weeks over what they say are unusual Russian troop movements closer to Ukraine, suggesting that Moscow may be poised to launch a new attack on its neighbour, accusations Russia has rejected as fear-mongering.
Russia's intentions remain unclear, and East-West tensions are running high with Ukraine, Russia and NATO all conducting military drills and Moscow accusing Washington of rehearsing a nuclear attack on Russia earlier this month.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Tim Ahmann, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Philippa Fletcher)