Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will travel to Tokyo next week to hold a trilateral meeting with her Japanese and South Korean counterparts on regional security issues such as North Korea, the U.S. government said Thursday.
The meeting will take place as part of Sherman's weeklong tour to Asia starting Sunday, which will also take her to South Korea and Mongolia. The State Department did not mention whether she will stop by China, as reported by a Hong Kong newspaper a day earlier.
During the trip, the deputy secretary will "reaffirm the U.S. commitment to working with allies and partners to promote peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and to upholding the international rules-based order," the department said in a press release.
In Tokyo, Sherman, Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori and South Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong Kun will meet Wednesday to discuss "trilateral cooperation on pressing shared challenges," the department and the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.
Agenda items for the trilateral meeting include North Korea, climate change and global health issues amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the department.
The U.S. administration of President Joe Biden has attached importance to enhancing cooperation with Washington's two closest allies in Asia, whose bilateral relations have been increasingly fraught over wartime compensation issues.
Separate bilateral talks will also be held on Tuesday, the Japanese ministry said.
In her talks with Japanese officials, Sherman will discuss a range of issues, including climate and global health security, the department said.
In talks with Choi, Mori is expected to discuss bilateral issues related to wartime history. South Korean President Moon Jae In may visit Japan next week for the opening of the Tokyo Olympics.
The United States, meanwhile, has been rallying allies and like-minded countries around the world to counter China's growing military and economic assertiveness.
In Seoul, Sherman will meet with South Korean officials to discuss bilateral and multilateral cooperation on what they call "shared priorities," including the climate crisis, pandemic relief, and post-COVID-19 economic recovery.
From Seoul, the deputy secretary will travel to Ulaanbaatar to meet with Mongolian officials to reinforce their ties and discuss their shared values of democracy and human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, the department said.
On Wednesday, the South China Morning Post said Sherman will visit China next week to meet with her Chinese counterpart Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng in Tianjin, citing a source who requested anonymity.
The newspaper said the move can be seen as an essential first step toward a potential leadership summit between the United States and China, which, if realized, would be the first since Biden took office in January.