US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Japan, Mongolia and South Korea next week, the Department of State has announced, a crucial visit to solidify ties with regional allies at a time when Washington’s relationship with China remains fraught.
The visit is scheduled to take place from October 4 to 8 and will be Pompeo’s first trip to the region since he went to Thailand in July 2019.
After flying to Japan, he will visit Mongolia on October 6 and South Korea on October 7 and 8, the Department of State said on Tuesday.
As part of the trip on October 6, Pompeo will participate in the second meeting of “Quad”, a gathering of foreign ministers from India, Australia and Japan.
The Quad engagement was revived in 2017 to deepen security cooperation and coordinate alternatives for regional infrastructure financing offered by China.
Ties between China and the United States are at the lowest point in decades, with the world’s top two economies at loggerheads over issues ranging from China’s handling of the coronavirus to trade, new national security legislation in Hong Kong and tensions in the South China Sea.
His trip comes in the run-up to the November election, with President Donald Trump making a tough approach to China an important foreign policy platform as he tries to win a second term in office.
A forceful and outspoken critic of China, Pompeo has led an international campaign for other nations to shun China, including its technology. He met Beijing’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, at a US military base in Hawaii in June, but little progress was made and ties continued to deteriorate.
Pompeo’s trip to South Korea comes as hopes subside for a breakthrough with North Korea, one of Trump’s earlier foreign policy priorities.
Trump has met leader Kim Jong Un three times, and Pompeo recently said that talks were continuing behind the scenes with North Korea, although he admitted that the administration would have liked to have made more progress.
Pompeo has been travelling frequently in recent weeks after a slowdown due to the coronavirus. He will head to Asia shortly after wrapping up a trip to Greece, Italy and Croatia.