The US defense secretary left the hospital on Monday after spending two weeks, the Pentagon announced, sparking controversy, including at the White House, for days of keeping quiet about his hospitalization.
• Read more: The Pentagon is launching an investigation into its leader's secret hospitalization
“I look forward to making a full recovery and returning to the Pentagon soon as I continue to recover and fulfill my duties from home,” Lloyd Austin said, drawing support from President Joe Biden despite his silence.
The 70-year-old former general learned he was suffering from prostate cancer in early December. He underwent surgery on December 22, returned home the next day, and was hospitalized again since January 1 due to complications including nausea and severe pain.
The White House was informed of his hospitalization only on January 4th, and it was made public on the 5th.
The situation has sparked an outcry in the press and among his Republican opponents, in the middle of an election year at a time when the world's leading military power is engaged in several major conflicts, from Ukraine to the Middle East.
With Kiev backing Russia and Israel against the Palestinian Hamas, Washington, whose forces are the target of ongoing attacks in Iraq and Syria, is mobilizing its international partners against Houthi rebels in Yemen who threaten maritime traffic in the Red Sea.
The White House acknowledged that the secret hospitalization was not “ideal” and some elected Democrats expressed their discomfort with the situation.
If the president retains his “confidence” in his minister, according to his spokesman, the White House has ordered a review of the rules applicable in the event of a senior official's incapacity.
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