WASHINGTON – 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.