Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will travel to the Pacific next week to convene a meeting of defense ministers from Asia against the backdrop of the massive regional response to the loss of the Malaysian jetliner.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby says Hagel will also stop by Japan and travel for the first time as defense chief to China and Mongolia.

Kirby said the expansive search for Flight 370 is an example of nations in the region coming together to deal with a disaster, adding that the U.S. is looking for ways to improve its ability to work with other Asia Pacific militaries.

The U.S. is hosting the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which will take place in Hawaii next week.