Fresh off a nine-day trip to the Asia-Pacific, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is scheduled to return to the region early next month for visits to Japan and South Korea. (Click on the interactive map above for a list of places Hagel has traveled or plans to travel.)
“You see the commitment that he’s made to the Asia-Pacific rebalance and he’s walking the walk, not just talking the talk,” Peter Lavoy, acting assistant secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs, said of Hagel during a Sept. 5 meeting with reporters at the Pentagon.
Hagel has taken two trips to Southeast Asia since becoming defense secretary in late February. His visit to Japan and South Korea is scheduled for early October, Lavoy said.
During his August trip to the region, Hagel met with numerous heads of state and government officials in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines and Brunei. He also attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) defense minister talks in Brunei.
While Hagel had his plate full with official meetings each day of the trip, his evenings were spent dealing with the situation in Syria, on the phone and secure video conferences with the White House situation room and other government officials.
“He was essentially doing Syria by night and Asia by day,” Lavoy said. “I think it really impressed upon his interlocutors that the US really brings incredible capacity with it wherever it goes to the region; that we’re able to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
At the ASEAN meetings in Brunei, Hagel held bilateral discussions with South Korean and Japanese defense leaders. At the June Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Hagel held talks with South Korea and a trilateral meeting with South Korea and Japan.
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