New U.S. defense chief to visit S. Korea in Aug.

WASHINGTON-- U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper will visit South Korea next month as part of a trip to Asia, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Esper, who took office last week, will leave Friday on a trip to Hawaii, Sydney, Auckland, Tokyo, Ulaanbaatar and Seoul, it said in a press release, without providing the dates.

"Throughout his trip, Secretary Esper will meet with key leaders to reaffirm defense relationships and conduct bilateral and multilateral meetings with senior officials," it said.

Esper's trip comes as the U.S. reportedly wants Seoul to increase its contribution to the upkeep of 28,500 American troops stationed in its Asian ally.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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