MILITARY

New Pentagon chief seeks to reassure nervous Asian allies

FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2107 file photo, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford greets Defense Secretary Jimn Mattis at the Pentagon. By visiting Japan and South Korea on his first official overseas trip, Mattis is seeking to reinforce key alliances after President Donald Trump’s campaign-trail complaints that defense treaties disadvantaged the United States.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2107 file photo, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford greets Defense Secretary Jimn Mattis at the Pentagon. By visiting Japan and South Korea on his first official overseas trip, Mattis is seeking to reinforce key alliances after President Donald Trump’s campaign-trail complaints that defense treaties disadvantaged the United States.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)  (The Associated Press)

By visiting Japan and South Korea on his first official overseas trip, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is seeking to reinforce longstanding alliances after President Donald Trump's campaign-trail complaints that defense treaties with the Asian allies disadvantaged the United States.

The visits also reflect the urgency of concerns on both sides of the Pacific about North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Mattis inherited a North Korea problem that has grown more worrisome as the communist nation's leader, Kim Jong Un, claims progress toward fielding a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States.

Mattis is due in Seoul on Thursday. Later in the week he is to hold talks in Tokyo. At both stops, China also is expected to be a key topic.