By TARA COPP
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has canceled his trip to Brussels to meet with NATO ministers and work on Ukraine military aid as he remains hospitalized while dealing with further complications from prostate cancer, two defense officials said Monday.
Austin, 70, was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday afternoon to address bladder issues. It was his second hospitalization due to complications following surgery in December to treat prostate cancer.
He underwent nonsurgical procedures under general anesthesia to address the bladder issue, the doctors said Monday in a statement released by the Pentagon.
“We anticipate a successful recovery and will closely monitor him overnight,” the statement said. “A prolonged hospital stay is not anticipated.”
Austin had been scheduled to travel to Brussels on Tuesday to attend a regular meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a gathering of about 50 countries to coordinate military aid for Kyiv. That meeting will now be held virtually, the defense officials said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details not yet made public.
On Monday, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said he did not know if President Joe Biden had spoken directly to Austin since he was hospitalized on Sunday but that the president still had confidence in his ability to serve.
The doctors said they expect that Austin will be able to resume his normal duties on Tuesday.
“The current bladder issue is not expected to change his anticipated full recovery,” their statement said. “His cancer prognosis remains excellent.”
Austin transferred his authorities to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks on Sunday.
Following the Ukraine meeting, he was to attend a regular meeting of NATO defense ministers, also in Brussels. It was not immediately clear if Hicks would attend that meeting instead.
Zeke Miller contributed to this story.