U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis will seek to reassure allies worldwide they can still rely on an increasingly inward-focused U.S., as he heads to East Asia on the first overseas trip by a Trump administration cabinet member.
The retired Marine Corps general leaves Wednesday for South Korea and Japan -- two of the U.S.’s closest allies -- amid questions about President Donald Trump’s commitment to the region, having pulled out of a 12-nation Pacific trade deal and suggesting previously that Asian nations weren’t paying enough for U.S. troops stationed in their countries.
Questions over ties with Tokyo and Seoul come against the backdrop of an increasingly belligerent regime in North Korea under Kim Jong Un. Pyongyang appears to be making preparations for another nuclear or missile test and has been advancing its weapons capability, with Trump saying he would not allow North Korea to threaten U.S. soil.
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