Kerry to visit China, South Korea, Indonesia and Abu Dhabi

WASHINGTON Sun Feb 9, 2014 6:33pm EST

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waves while boarding his plane at Franz-Josef-Strauss Airport in Munich, southern Germany, February 2, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waves while boarding his plane at Franz-Josef-Strauss Airport in Munich, southern Germany, February 2, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan Smialowski/Pool

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will begin a trip this week to China, South Korea, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, the State Department said on Sunday, at a time of high tensions in Asia over China's increasingly assertive territorial claims.

The trip, which runs from Thursday to February 18, will be Kerry's fifth visit to Asia since he became secretary of state just over a year ago, and comes before a planned visit by President Barack Obama in April to promote a strategic U.S. "pivot" to the region announced in 2011.

Kerry will visit Seoul, Beijing, Jakarta and Abu Dhabi "to meet with senior government officials and address a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

In Beijing and Seoul, Kerry's talks are expected to focus on an air defense zone China declared last year covering territory also claimed by South Korea and Japan, including uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. He is also expected to discuss concerns about North Korea's nuclear program.

Psaki said Kerry would relay to Chinese officials "that the United States is committed to pursuing a positive, cooperative, comprehensive relationship and welcomes the rise of a peaceful and prosperous China that plays a positive role in world affairs."

He will also discuss North Korea and highlight the importance of U.S.-China collaboration on climate change and clean energy, Psaki's statement said.

During his stop in Seoul, Kerry will discuss North Korea and ways to expand U.S.-South Korean cooperation on regional and global issues, the statement added.

In Jakarta, Kerry will co-chair the Joint Commission Meeting under the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership and meet the secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

While in Abu Dhabi, he will discuss issues of interest to the U.S.-UAE relationship, the State Department said.

Kerry has faced criticism for the amount of time he has devoted to peace efforts in the Middle East rather than the rebalancing of military and economic focus toward Asia in reaction to the growing clout of China.

Concerns about U.S. commitments to the region were highlighted in October when Obama called off plans to attend two summits in Asia because of a budget crisis at home.

Kerry stood in for Obama at those meetings and held talks in Japan involving U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera in which they agreed to modernize the U.S.-Japan defense alliance for the first time in 16 years.

Vice President Joe Biden followed up with a visit to Japan, Beijing and Seoul in December, but Kerry will have to work hard to counter a perception among many in Asia that Obama's pivot is more rhetoric than substance.

SECURITY COLLABORATION

On Friday, Kerry met Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Washington and stressed the U.S. commitment to the defense of Japan and stability in the Asia-Pacific region against the backdrop of Chinese territorial claims.

He said the United States and Japan were committed to closer security collaboration and reiterated that Washington "neither recognizes nor accepts" an air defense zone China has declared in East China Sea and would not change how it conducts operations there.

The United States flew B-52s through the Chinese air defense zone after it was declared last year. U.S. officials have warned that any declaration by Beijing of another such zone in the South China Sea could result in changes to U.S. military deployments in the region.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei attacked Kerry's remarks on Saturday, saying China's air defense zone was fully in line with international law and norms.

"We urge the U.S. side to stop making irresponsible remarks so as not to harm regional stability and the China-U.S. relationship," Hong said.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Peter Cooney)

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Comments (3)
Wen_Jiabao wrote:
the U.S. commitment to the defense of Japan and stability in the Asia-Pacific region against the backdrop of Chinese territorial claims.

Feb 10, 2014 9:02am EST  --  Report as abuse
mosaicvic wrote:
I just read about The People’s Republic of China hypersonic missile that travels 7 times the speed of sound and the new fleet of submarines with missile capabilities that could reach the Western United States.

The Nine Dash Line is provoking. The East China Sea ADIZ is extreme and aggressive. Is China going after Taiwan, Republic of China.

Ever since China was given back authority over Hong Kong, Macau, and other territories in 1999 life in America has been in decline. Then, 9-11 happened and China’s economic climb began at an excessive rate as Americans began pumping themselves with Anti Depressants and other synthetics…then came the gadgets and NSA. Is this part of a divine plan?

I have a feeling that manufacturing is returning to the United States. Good time to buy those empty houses in Detroit and other decayed towns.

Feb 10, 2014 2:30pm EST  --  Report as abuse
James883 wrote:
Kerry is going to visit Southeast Asia but will skip Japan. Is he giving Japan a warning signal. Kerry repeated the commitment of US in the defense of Japan. That means US will for the forseeable future maintain a forceful military presence in Japan. One must remind oneself as to why US has been stationing itself in Japan since 1945. As of today, we are informed that over 52,000 well equipped militry personnel are stationed throughout Japan in about 84 military bases. Is Japan being occupied by US? It certainly seems that way. Any interesting move by Japan would result in interesting repercussion from US. Japan is clearly not a normal country as envisioned by Abe. Kerry is giving Abe a clear signal. Do not try to fire the first shot and stay away from the disputed territories. Or, you are on your own. Western writers! Can you guys explore or make inquiry as to the true meaning of Kerry’s statements? Make sure to let Abe knows that US is not leaving Japan anytime soon.

Feb 10, 2014 9:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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