Washington, Nov 1: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit China, South Korea and Japan next week, the Pentagon said.
The trip will be Gates' first visit to the three Asian countries since he took over as Pentagon chief last December.
In the past, US officials have pressed to visit military facilities on trips to China but Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell yesterday said he did not believe Gates had any such plans.
''I don't think he's desirous of seeing military facilities,'' Morrell told reporters. ''He's going there to have meetings and that's the purpose of the visit.'' Despite concern in the United States about increasing military spending in China, Gates said in March that he did not view China as a strategic adversary.
But Gates and other US officials have repeatedly urged Beijing to be more transparent about its military spending.
Morrell declined to disclose any more details of the trip.
But he said on Tuesday that the talks in Japan would likely include the failure of Japan's government and opposition to agree on extending a naval refueling mission that supports operations linked to the war in Afghanistan.
Morrell said he did not expect that development to have any impact on US military operations.