- POSTED: 27 Sep 2013 04:47
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US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Japan and Indonesia next week to renew US efforts to build ties in Asia amid his focus on the Middle East, officials said on Thursday.
UNITED NATIONS: US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Japan and Indonesia next week to renew US efforts to build ties in Asia amid his focus on the Middle East, officials said on Thursday.
Kerry will join Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel for security talks with close US ally Japan on October 2-3 in Tokyo, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
The meeting provides "an opportunity to build on our already broad and comprehensive bilateral relationship," she said in a statement.
Kerry will then head to the Indonesian island of Bali for talks of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, joining President Barack Obama at a summit.
"APEC is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade, and investment in the Asia-Pacific region," Psaki said.
"Promoting trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific remains a key component of the US rebalance policy."
Obama - who will also visit Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines - in his first term launched a "pivot" strategy of putting greater focus on Asia, seeing the dynamic region as neglected due to past focus on conflict zones.
Kerry, while pledging full commitment to the Asia pivot, has invested more time in the Middle East as he tries to push forward an elusive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Japan will be the first Asian country that Kerry will visit more than once as secretary of state.
The top US diplomat has said that he hoped at some point to visit Vietnam, where his military service proved a formative experience.
Before Kerry heads to Japan, the Pentagon chief, Hagel, will depart September 28 for South Korea to mark the 60th anniversary of the US alliance with Seoul.
Hagel is due to hold talks with South Korean officials and preside over a change of command ceremony for US forces on the Korean peninsula, with General James Thurman handing over to Lieutenant General Curtis "Mike" Scaparrotti.
Hagel then proceeds to Japan on October 2 for the security talks.