U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson begins a three-nation trip Wednesday in Japan as he seeks to reassure allies and discuss ways to counter nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.
His schedule includes meetings Thursday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
He goes Friday to South Korea for talks with acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, but is not scheduled to meet with any opposition figures in the country that is holding elections for a new leader in May.
Japan and South Korea, which host U.S. troops and are already within range of North Korean missiles, support U.S. efforts to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang. A statement by the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said the three allies were conducting drills Wednesday in seas east of the divided Korean Peninsula and north of Japan to promote interoperability.
The final leg of Tillerson’s trip is in China where his chief objective is meeting with President Xi Jinping to lay the groundwork for a summit between Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump, which is expected to take place in early April in Florida.