US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Sunday, June 24, arrived in Alaska ahead of a six-day visit to Asia with his itinerary featuring China, South Korea and Japan.
Mattis, who took the reins in January 2017, was set to visit a nearby US missile defence base in Alaska before embarking on his trip to the Asia-Pacific (dubbed Indo-Pacific by the Donald Trump administration) for the seventh time in his tenure so far.
"Mattis will tour Eielson Air Force Base, a strategic air base in Alaska where up to 100 advanced fighter jets will be deployed as part of a shift in U.S. military forces toward the Asia Pacific," reported the Washington Free Beacon.
He would also visit Fort Greely, where American ground-based midcourse defence anti-missile interceptors are located, in Alaska.
'US to set timeline for N Korea'
On Tuesday, June 26, Mattis will speak with Chinese officials and the discussions will include denuclearisation of North Korea. A senior US defence official said on the condition of anonymity ahead of Mattis's visit that Washington will soon set a timeline for North Korea with "specific asks" in the wake of the June 12 summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, China Global Television Network reported. The details about the timeline were not specified, however.
Strategic tensions between the US and China over the South China Sea will also feature in Mattis's talks with the Chinese side.
Chinese officials are likely to engage with Mattis on Washington's growing support for Taiwan which the US is obliged to defend.
In South Korea, Mattis will hold talks with Seoul's defence officials over the decision to suspend US-South Korean military exercises that depend on the results of further talks with Pyongyang over denuclearisation.
In Japan, Mattis will talk with Tokyo's officials over North Korean missile threats and also the issue of Pyongyang abducting Japanese nationals in the 1970s.