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New Pentagon chief to visit Japan, S. Korea next week

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-01-26 10:28

WASHINGTON - US Defense Secretary James Mattis will travel to Japan and South Korea next week for his first overseas visit since taking office, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

Departing on Feb 1, Mattis will begin his trip in South Korea, where he will meet with his South Korean counterpart Han Min Koo and other senior officials. On Feb 3, Mattis will travel to Tokyo to meet with his Japanese counterpart Tomomi Inada.

"The trip will underscore the commitment of the United States to our enduring alliances with Japan and the Republic of Korea, and further strengthen US-Japan-Republic of Korea security cooperation," the Pentagon said in a statement.

On Friday, Mattis was confirmed by the US Senate as the new Pentagon chief in an overwhelming vote.

At the hearing earlier this month, Mattis took a clear anti-Russia stance, describing Moscow as a "principle threat" to US security, a position notably different from Trump.

The United States should also check Russia's growing influence in the Arctic region, Mattis said.

Mattis also chose to distance from Trump on other key issues, including the role of NATO, which Trump said should shrink, and on the Iranian nuclear agreement, which Trump threatened to scrap.

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