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U.S. Indo-Pacific commander to visit South Korea after Japan stop

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U.S. Indo-Pacific commander to visit South Korea after Japan stop
Adm. John Aquilino is making his first trip to Japan and South Korea after being appointed to lead the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in April. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

June 2 (UPI) -- The newly appointed chief of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is to visit South Korea this week after meeting with senior members of the Japanese government, including Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Adm. John Aquilino, whose appointment to the post was confirmed in April, may be arriving in Korea Thursday, South Korean military sources said, local newspaper Dong-A Ilbo reported Wednesday.

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The Indo-Pacific commander is in charge of overseeing U.S. security objectives and integrating Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps forces in the Asia region.

Aquilino is expected to meet with South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Won In-Choul and South Korean foreign ministry and security officials. South Korean government officials said the two sides are expected to reaffirm an "ironclad" commitment to shared security, according to the report.

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The United States could be seeking South Korea's cooperation on regional security. Last month at the White House, the two countries agreed to "acknowledge the importance of open, transparent and inclusive regional multilateralism, including the Quad," a reference to the four-country alliance that has emerged in the wake of Chinese military activity in the South China Sea.

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The joint U.S.-South Korea summit statement drew a critical response from Chinese diplomats in May. Beijing said the statement's reference to "preserving and stability in the Taiwan Strait" was targeting China.

South Korea said it has reached out to China to address Chinese concerns. Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said Friday Seoul "explained" South Korea's desire for "peace and security in the Taiwan Strait," and that he expected China to "fully understand" Korea's position.

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In Tokyo, Suga and Aquilino agreed the two countries remain committed to "further strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance," the Japan Times reported Wednesday.

Aquilino and Suga also agreed on the "importance of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region," the Japanese foreign ministry said.

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