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U.S. State, Defense Secretaries to visit S. Korea, Japan soon: sources Updated: 2021-03-05 15:52:27 KST

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are reportedly planning to visit South Korea and Japan later this month.
Seoul's foreign ministry and U.S. State Department said they could not confirm any such itinerary, but sources say a two-day visit to Seoul is likely to take place from March 17th.
The American officials are expected to hold a so-called "two plus two" meeting with their South Korean counterparts.
Possibly on the agenda include trilateral cooperation between Seoul, Washington and Tokyo, as well as policies toward China and North Korea.
While the U.S. is reviewing its North Korea policy, Blinken has singled out China as their "biggest geopolitical test."

"We will manage the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century, our relationship with China. Several countries present us with serious challenges, including Russia, Iran, North Korea."

Other pending bilateral issues include the transfer of wartime OPCON from Washington to Seoul and the allies' active negotiations on an updated defense cost-sharing deal.

Before visiting Seoul, the U.S. officials are likely to visit Japan for talks with their Japanese counterparts and a meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
If the trip happens in spite of the pandemic it will be the first overseas trip by officials of the Biden administration, and is seen as the Biden team prioritizing Asia when it comes to foreign policy and national security.
The State Department has stressed multiple times the importance of their commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and working with American allies in Northeast Asia.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News.
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