News / USA

Kerry Heads to South Korea, China, Japan

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (r) at the G8 meeting in London, April 11, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (r) at the G8 meeting in London, April 11, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels to South Korea on Friday, to China on Saturday, and to Japan on Sunday.  This first trip to Asia will focus on North Korea and a series of regional disputes.

While in Seoul, State Department officials say Kerry will discuss an agreement already in place for a "proportional" response by the United States and South Korea to any North Korean aggression.

There will also be talk of South Korea's civilian nuclear program and President Park Geun-hye's trip to Washington next month.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says President Park's position on North Korea adds to pressure on Kerry to get Beijing to help with Pyongyang.

"The escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula may in fact require a new level of strategic discourse in the U.S.-China relationship sooner rather than later if escalation is to be contained, particularly given the unpredictability and political inexperience of Kim Jong Un, the domestic political pressure on newly-elected President Park in South Korea to respond in kind to any fresh military provocation from the North, and the absence of a Chinese 'Plan B' if hostilities were to erupt," said Rudd.

Doug Paal, director of the Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, believes Chinese leaders are pleased with North Korea's appointment of a more progressive, Chinese-educated, prime minister.

"Park Poong-joo can be seen by the Chinese as a way for the North to undertake, as China has been urging for more than a decade, the same kind of reforms China has undertaken which would bring to North Korea economic and social stability that is elusive with their current failing economic model," he said.

That, he says, is an opportunity for Kerry to address Chinese concerns about an ultimately reunified Korean peninsula.

"And I think the president could authorize Kerry to say that the U.S. has no need nor intention of putting its troops north of the 30th parallel, except to extract the nuclear weapons," he said. "Now, can you live with that?  Do you want a South Korea that reunifies that is hostile to you or do you want to work with it?"

In Tokyo, Kerry will reaffirm Washington's commitment to help defend Japan from a North Korean attack.  Former U.S. Defense Department official for Asia Jim Schoff says China's preeminence in the U.S. approach to North Korea concerns Japanese leaders facing their own territorial standoff with Beijing.

"Our desire to have China be a part of our solution there will make Japan potentially a little bit more uncomfortable because Japan would certainly like to talk about the Senkaku Islands and making sure that the United States is strong behind Japan’s defense of those islands in the face of encroachment by China, so there’s a bit of a delicate diplomacy that Secretary Kerry will have to conduct there," said Schoff.

Schoff expects Kerry to broaden the diplomatic dialogue in both Tokyo and Seoul.

"Kerry will try to engage and bring Japan and South Korea, in particular get them involved in other global issues - Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and rebuilding and sustaining that transition there," he said. "So there’ll be this theme of America’s engaged in Asia, but we also want our Asian allies to be a partner in dealing with global challenges."

President Obama's just-released budget shows his commitment to a greater role in Asia with increased funding for social programs in Burma, economic assistance for Vietnam, military spending in the Philippines and support for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid