Tillerson begins South Korea trip

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began his two-day trip to South Korea on Friday, which is expected to focus on discussing ways to strengthen the bilateral alliance and fend off the growing threats from North Korea, the media reported.

Tillerson arrived at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 70 km south of Seoul at about 10.10 a.m., Yonhap News Agency reported.

He arrived in South Korea after visiting Japan where he held talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other top officials in Tokyo on Thursday.

Right after landing, Tillerson headed to the Demilitarised Zone on the inter-Korean border, the first major schedule of his visit.

Later in the day, he will meet Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who took over in December after then-President Park Geun-hye was impeached by parliament.

He also plans to hold a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se to discuss pending regional and global issues.

The two will hold a joint press conference before going into the talks.

Tillerson’s visit to South Korea is part of his three-country Asian tour that will also take him to China this weekend. This marked his first trip of this kind since taking office as top diplomat under President Donald Trump’s administration.

According to political analysts, the Secretary of State’s visit came amid mounting anxiety over additional provocations by North Korea and deepening friction between South Korea and China over the deployment of an American missile defence system called the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad).

During a press conference held after meeting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo before leaving for South Korea, Tillerson told reporters that US efforts over the past 20 years to denuclearise the North have failed, calling for a “new approach” in dealing with Pyongyang.

However, the secretary did not provide details on what the new approach would be but noted that he exchanged views on it with Japan and will do so with his counterparts in South Korea and China.

He is scheduled to fly to China on Saturday.

IANS