U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) shakes hands with South Korea's President Park Geun-hye at the Blue House in Seoul February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Evan Vucci/Pool
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Asia on Thursday on a mission aimed largely at easing tensions between China and its smaller neighbors over territorial disputes and exploring ways to restart long-stalled talks on ridding North Korea of nuclear weapons.On his fifth trip to Asia as America's top diplomat, Kerry will be visiting South Korea, China and Indonesia, where officials traveling with him said he will be making the case for reducing regional acrimony over competing claims in the East and South China seas. At his first stop in Seoul, Kerry will also be expressing deep concern about a recent spike in tensions between U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, the officials said. Japan is not on Kerry's itinerary, but Kerry made the same point with Japan's foreign minister last week in Washington, the officials noted.Kerry arrived in Seoul a day after senior North and South Korean officials held their highest-level talks in years, but as the North continues to complain about upcoming U.S.-South Korean military exercises.Kerry will bring a similar message on North Korea to senior Chinese officials when he visits Beijing on Friday, the officials said.
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