Gates to Visit China, Korea, Japan
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2007 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today announced he will leave Nov. 4 for a six-day trip to China, Korea and Japan. (Video)
“In Tokyo and Seoul, I’ll touch base with two valued friends going back five decades and two strong partners in the war on terror,” he said during a Pentagon news conference. “With regard to China, it will be a chance to keep open the lines of communication and strengthen the relationship between our two countries.”
The secretary stated that he does not consider China a military threat to the United States. “I have concerns with a variety of the military programs they have under way, developmental programs,” he said. “I have concerns with the lack of transparency. Those are the issue we will be talking about in addition to the ways we can strengthen the relationship.”
In Korea, Gates will participate in the 39th annual Defense Consultative Meeting. Civilian and military leaders will discuss the way forward for the U.S.-Republic of Korea Pact.
In Japan, Gates will meet with his new counterpart Shigeru Ishiba and discuss Japan ending its refueling mission in the Indian Ocean. Japanese oilers refueled coalition ships supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. The government of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has not been able to get authorization through the Japanese Diet, the country’s legislature, even though the government wants to continue the mission.
Gates said Japan ending the mission will not have an impact on the U.S.-Japan defense relationship. “My hope is that relatively soon -- in a matter of weeks and not more, I hope, than a few months -- this assistance will be renewed,” he said.
Gates said he welcomes Japan’s partnership in the war on terror and said the country is combating terrorism in other ways. “But this is important, and we hope it will be renewed,” he said.