WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit South Korea, Japan and China in mid-April and Southeast Asia in June for an annual regional gathering, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.
Kerry’s decision to make his first foreign trip since taking office on February 1 to Europe and the Middle East raised questions in Asia about his commitment to the region.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Kerry would attend Group of Eight (G8) meetings in London on April 10-11 and then travel on to Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing.
He also plans to attend a gathering of the 27-member ASEAN Regional Forum in Brunei in June, when he will also visit other unspecified countries in Southeast Asia.
“During these engagements, the secretary will continue to affirm the administration’s commitment to further broaden and enhance U.S. economic, security and strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region,” Nuland told reporters.
The spokeswoman said Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran, has a long history in the region, including in helping to lay the groundwork for the 1995 normalization of U.S.-Vietnamese relations and working with China on climate change.
“He is very much looking forward to getting back to Asia and to working on these things with counterparts,” Nuland said.
Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Eric Beech