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Kerry's mission in Asia intent on balance for anxious nations

John Kerry’s three nation trip to Seoul, Korea, Beijing, China and Indonesia are a mission of peaceful relationships placed back in balance. There are the issues of tension between Japan and China over island area for security location, South Korea and their issue of an aggressive North Korea and all of the nations want to prevent North Korea’s nuclear weapon program from destabilization in the region, reports the Mc Clatchy Washington Bureau.

On Thursday, Kerry spent time with top government officials in South Korea, after which he made clear that North Korea's nuclear program would be a major focus of his two days in Beijing. He voiced full support for South Korean President Park Geun-Hye's efforts to build trust with the North and their upcoming meeting.

Part of Kerry's visit is designed to send the message that the Obama administration still wants to ‘rebalance’ U.S. foreign policy to focus more on China and Asia. This is Kerry's fifth trip to Asia, and his second to China since becoming secretary of state last year. His trip to Asia coincides with the announcement of President Obama’s own trip to Asia in April.

North Korea pushing the South to postpone its annual military exercises with the U.S. until after a planned reunion from February 20-25 of family members separated by the Korean War. However, the U.S. Kerry said the reunion was a purely humanitarian issue and there was ‘no legitimate excuse’ for linking it to the military exercises that take place every year. U.S. military has 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea.

In a recent commentary in the China Daily, Stephen Harner, an Asia consultant and former State Department official, said the United States risks triggering a regional arms race with its aggressive stance toward China.

‘The U.S. 'rebalance' to Asia policy looks more than anything like a Department of Defense strategy to keep and grow Pentagon personnel levels, budgets and new weapons development, under the pretext of 'strengthening alliances,’ Harner wrote.

China's recent claims on vast ocean expanses off its coasts begs the question whether Obama and Kerry will risk expending their political capital on those issues at the possible expense of a major foreign policy prize -- a less dangerous North Korea.

In Beijing Kerry will reinforce the U.S. position that it is unwise for China to take actions that disrupt the status quo in in the region, said a US state dept. official. China has become involved in territorial island disputes with its neighbors establishing a no fly zone over a busy route of shipping lanes and commercial airspace.

At a news conference late Friday in Beijing, Kerry said he had productive conversations with top Chinese leaders, who he said ‘could not have been more emphatic’ in their desire to stop North Korea's nuclear program ‘over the long run.’

In his Beijing news conference, Kerry also stressed the potential for China and the United States -- 'the two most powerful economies of the world' -- to achieve major accomplishments by focusing on areas of mutual agreement and working respectfully on issues where both sides disagree.

‘China and the United States are cooperating on big-ticket items,’ said Kerry, adding that joint efforts by both countries to address climate change, clean energy and conflicts in Iran and Afghanistan have gotten less attention than they deserve.

To read more about U.S. relations in Asia see the list below in Author’s suggestions and view the video atop this article with John Kerry in South Korea.

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