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(LEAD) U.S. Vice President Pence to visit South Korea on first trip to Asia-Pacific

All Headlines 02:14 April 07, 2017

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By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, April 6 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will visit South Korea later this month on his first trip to the Asia-Pacific region, the White House announced Thursday.

Pence will arrive in Seoul on April 16 for a three-day visit that includes meetings with Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn and National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun. He will also hold a listening session with local business leaders and give remarks to the business community, it said.

On the day of arrival, Pence will spend Easter Sunday with U.S. and South Korean troops and their families, the office said. Also traveling with Pence will be second lady Karen Pence and their two daughters, it said. Pence's father, Edward Pence, was a Korean War veteran who was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for his service.

Seoul is the first stop of the trip that will also take him to Japan, Indonesia, Australia and Hawaii.

"During his trip, the vice president will emphasize President Trump's continued commitment to U.S. alliances and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region, highlight the administration's economic agenda, and underscore America's unwavering support for our troops at home and abroad," the White House said.

(LEAD) U.S. Vice President Pence to visit South Korea on first trip to Asia-Pacific - 1

The trip comes as North Korea has been ratcheting up tensions with a series of ballistic missile launches amid fears the communist nation could conduct yet another nuclear test, which would mark its sixth.

The visit also comes about a week after U.S. President Donald Trump hold his first summit talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, set for Thursday and Friday, where how to deal with North Korea is expected to be one of the key topics, along with trade.

While in Seoul, Pence is expected to reaffirm the U.S. security commitment to the Asian ally in the face of ever-growing nuclear and missile threats from the North. Since taking office, Trump has repeatedly expressed his commitment to stand by South Korea.

Pence's visit also comes as South Korea is set to elect a new president next month after former President Park Geun-hye was impeached and ultimately removed from office over corruption charges in a massive influence-peddling scandal involving a long-time confidante.

After Seoul, Pence will visit Tokyo on April 18 where he will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and lead the inaugural U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue with Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso. The trip will also include a meeting with business leaders and a tour of the USS Ronald Reagan, the office said.

Pence will then visit Indonesia on April 20 for meetings with President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Australia's Sydney on April 22 for meetings with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

On the way home, Pence will visit Hawaii on April 24 to meet with leaders of the U.S. Pacific Command. pay a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial to honor those who fought and perished during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and meet with U.S. troops and their families, the office said.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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