World and Nation

Kerry heads to Asia to reassure allies of US support

MANAS, Kyrgyzstan — With tensions on high in the Korean Peninsula, Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in South Korea on Friday in an attempt to reassure U.S. allies in the region that the United States remains committed to their defense.

Besides stops in South Korea and Japan, Kerry will also visit China to urge officials there to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program, according to a senior State Department official traveling with Kerry.

Asia is the final leg of Kerry’s six-nation trip, which has taken him to Turkey, Israel and Britain, where he attended a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in London. His trip comes as the government of Kim Jong Un has been making preparations to conduct a test launching of a medium-range Musudan missile with a potential range of 2,500 miles.

The State Department official said the U.S. wanted China to crack down on the illicit flow of funds that move through front companies and banks, which the North Korean government uses to support its nuclear weapons program.

“We want to see them do what we do, what the Japanese do, what the South Koreans do, which is to stick to U.N. Security Council resolutions,” the official said, and “stop those money trails.”

The second step the U.S. wants the Chinese to take is to “carry some tough message to Pyongyang and make it clear to them that denuclearization is also their goal,” the official said.