U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (R) arrives for the U.S. Military Academy Class of 2017 graduation ceremony at Michie Stadium on May 27, 2017 in West Point, New York. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images/AFP
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Pentagon chief Jim Mattis arrived in Singapore Friday ahead of a key defense summit where longstanding U.S. allies will look for clear messages about America's regional security goals under President Donald Trump.Mattis's visit, his second to the region, is the latest in a string of appearances by top U.S. officials who have scrambled to reassure partners about U.S. commitments.The U.S. leader's views have shifted since he took office, and Mattis told reporters he would be underscoring American support for the region.Mattis's challenge is to reassure allies that America can apply pressure on China over the South China Sea, while at the same time convincing Beijing that controlling North Korea is in its own security interests.Underscoring the point, the U.S. Navy on May 25 conducted a "freedom of navigation" operation in the South China Sea, when the USS Dewey guided-missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands.
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