James Mattis to visit Asia on 1st overseas trip as Pentagon chief

FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2016, file photo, President-elect Donald Trump shakes hands with retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as he leaves Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J. Trump said at a rally on Dec. 1, that he will nominate Mattis as defense secretary. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Pentagon officials say James Mattis will travel to Japan and South Korea in early February for his first overseas visit as defense secretary.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, confirmed the trip Wednesday but declined to give details, including dates.

At his Senate confirmation hearing and in his first days in office, Mattis, a retired Marine general, has stressed the importance of maintaining international alliances. President Donald Trump raised concerns during the campaign by asserting that some allies are not pulling their weight and by suggesting that he might not object to Japan or South Korea developing their own nuclear weapons if they do not pay more for U.S. military support.

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