U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will likely visit South Korea and China next month, diplomatic sources here said Sunday.
The State Department is in consultations with the governments of the two countries for the secretary's trips for the purpose of discussing North Korea, history and territorial tensions in Northeast Asia, and other pending issues, they added.
"Secretary Kerry is considering trips to China and South Korea in February. He is expected to visit the two countries unless something urgent happens with regard to other diplomatic matters such as those on Syria or Iran," an informed source told Yonhap News Agency.
No exact schedule has been set yet, added the source.
The department has not made any related announcement. "We don't have any travel to announce right now," a department official told Yonhap.
Kerry, meanwhile, made public his plans to visit Asia in the near future.
"I was recently in the Philippines, and in a few weeks, I will be back in Asia, my fifth trip as Secretary of State within a year," he said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week. He did not reveal specific destinations.
He emphasized the importance of the Asia Pacific region amid Washington's efforts to rebalance toward the area after a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The United States is working extremely closely with China and our allies in the region in order to address North Korea's reckless nuclear program, and also on diplomatic priorities like disaster relief and development," Kerry said.
Kerry made his previous trip to Seoul in April last year, when he also visited China and Japan.
Chances are high, however, the secretary will skip Japan if he visits Northeast Asia in February, another source said.
"It would be hard for him to visit Japan this time, given his tight schedule," the source said.
He traveled to Tokyo in October for the so-called two-plus-two security consultations. (Yonhap)