(WASHINGTON) President Donald Trump's defense secretary is expected to underscore U.S. security commitments to key allies South Korea and Japan on his debut trip to Asia this week as concerns mount over North Korea's missile program and tensions with China.
- The trip is the first for retired Marine General James Mattis since becoming Trump's Pentagon chief and is also the first foreign trip by any of Trump's cabinet secretaries.
- Officials say the fact that Mattis is first heading to Asia - as opposed to perhaps visiting troops in Iraq or Afghanistan - is meant to reaffirm ties with two Asian allies hosting nearly 80,000 American troops and the importance of the region overall.
- That U.S. reaffirmation could be critical after Trump appeared to question the cost of such U.S. alliances during the election campaign. He also jolted the region by pulling Washington out of an Asia-Pacific trade deal that Japan had championed.
"It's a reassurance message," said one Trump administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"This is for all of the people who were concerned during the campaign that then-candidate, now-president, Trump was skeptical of our alliances and was somehow going to retreat from our traditional leadership role in the region."
Trump himself has spoken with the leaders of both Japan and South Korea in recent days and will host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington on Feb. 10.
Mattis leaves the United States on Feb. 1, heading first to Seoul before continuing to Tokyo on Feb. 3.
Reuters News, TRUNEWS Commentary
Like David vs. Goliath, Rick Wiles is a citizen reporter who decided to take on the Big News Media. Starting with a $7,500 donation in May 1999 to launch the first radio program, Rick’s faith in God and steadfast determination has overseen the growth and development of Trunews into an internationally recognized source of credible news and information in a world where nothing seems to make sense anymore. Rick’s professional career was in media marketing and advertising sales. Throughout his early years, God’s hand silently guided him to be in employed in the latest new media. While in his early 20’s, Rick’s first media job was with a new FM radio station in the days when AM was still king.
In 1980, he blazed a path as a pioneer in local cable television advertising when CNN and ESPN were new start-up channels on cable TV. As a sales manager, he launched one of the first cable advertising interconnects in the nation. He was hired in 1984 by the Christian Broadcasting Network as the first National Cable Marketing Manager for the new CBN Cable Network which later became the Family Channel. In 1995, Paul F. Crouch hired Rick as the Marketing Director for Trinity Broadcasting Network where Rick repositioned the TBN brand inside the cable industry – and played an important role in negotiating the early contracts to launch TBN on DirecTV, DISH, and the former PrimeStar DBS systems. Rick resigned from TBN in September 1998 after receiving a dramatic call from God to fulltime ministry.
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