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Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Secretary of State Tony Blinken told me during an "Axios on HBO" interview that President Biden is meeting with Vladimir Putin nine days from now "not in spite of" the cyberattacks that disrupted U.S. meat and gas supplies: "It's because of them."

Why it matters: Biden will tell Putin "directly and clearly what he can expect from the United States if aggressive, reckless actions toward us continue," Blinken told me in the grand Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room.

Blinken said the U.S. "would prefer a more stable relationship" with Russia.

  • "I can't tell you whether I'm optimistic or not about the results," he added. "I don't think we're going to know after one meeting, but we'll have some indications ... We're prepared either way."

Blinken sees his Job 1 as reconnecting with allies, and he said he's found a real thirst for U.S. engagement.

  • "Our partners see the same thing that we do," he said. "If you're looking at all of the really big problems that we're trying to solve — ... like the pandemic, like climate change, like emerging technologies ... — no one country can do it alone."
  • Blinken added that when the U.S. isn't leading, China and others fill the vacuum, "and maybe not in a way that advances our interests or values": "We've certainly seen China ... try to fill voids where we've been relatively disengaged."

On the Israel-Gaza conflict, I asked Blinken what'll happen if Israel produces no smoking-gun evidence that Hamas was occupying the building, housing AP and Al-Jazeera, that Israel bombed after a warning.

  • "President Biden's been very clear: Israel has the right to defend itself, and it was on the receiving end of indiscriminate rocket attacks," Blinken began.
  • "However, having said that: Israel, as a democracy, I think has an added burden to make sure it is doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. ... I think one of the things that we found ourselves, speaking only for the United States, is that the more transparency you can provide, the more legitimacy you're going to have."

Go deeper: Blinken vows to hold China accountable on COVID origins

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Go deeper

Updated Sep 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Top Democrat threatens to subpoena Biden officials as Blinken testifies on Afghanistan

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, facing a second day of interrogation from Republican lawmakers highly critical of the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Driving the news: The committee's chair, the hawkish New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez, pulled no punches in his opening statement, threatening to subpoena Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other Biden officials who decline to voluntarily appear before the committee.

Blinken says U.S. doesn't know who was killed in Kabul drone strike

Facing scrutiny from a Senate panel Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted that he doesn't know if the U.S. mistakenly targeted an aid worker in a drone strike in Kabul that reportedly killed 10 Afghan civilians.

Driving the news: The U.S. is still investigating the strike, and maintains it "was taken to prevent an imminent threat to the airport," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement Tuesday. "We do work very hard to avoid civilian casualties, and we would be deeply saddened by any loss of innocent life.”

Sep 14, 2021 - World

Scoop: Blinken to host event marking Abraham Accords anniversary

Blinken (L) with Israeli foriegn minister Yair Lapid. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken will hold a virtual meeting on Friday with his counterparts from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords.

Why it matters: This is the most active and public show of support by the Biden administration for the agreements, which were President Trump’s landmark foreign policy achievement.