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Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter making first official trip to Asia

By Andrew V. Pestano
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Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter making first official trip to Asia
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter assumed office in February, replacing former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI. | License Photo

WASHINGTON, April 6 (UPI) -- Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter will be making his first official trip to Asia by visiting Japan and South Korea in talks aimed at strengthening regional security.

He will leave from Washington, D.C., on Monday to travel Tokyo, Japan, and later to South Korea after delivering a speech at Arizona State University's McCain Institute where he is expected to speak on the link between the economy and national security.

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Carter will meet Japanese and South Korean allied officials for talks aimed at "strengthening and modernizing America's alliances in Northeast Asia," according to a Pentagon statement. He will also meet U.S. service members and their families who are stationed in Japan, where there are about 49,000 U.S. troops, and South Korea, where there are about 28,500.

He will discuss security issues and the U.S.-Japan defense strategic guidelines review, which determine how the countries will cooperate militarily, on Wednesday and Thursday. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who will visit the United States later this month, has sought to loosen operational restrictions on Japan's Self-Defense Forces.

Carter will arrive in Seoul on Thursday to meet with senior South Korean government officials to discuss regional issues and "reiterate the United States' strong commitment to Republic of Korea's security."

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This would be Carter's third trip since taking leadership of the Department of Defense in February. He traveled to Afghanistan and Kuwait days after assuming office.

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