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(2nd LD) John Kerry to visit Seoul next month
By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, March 14 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to South Korea next month as part of his Northeast Asia tour, his department announced Thursday.

   It will mark his first trip to the region since he took office in February.
Following the G-8 meetings in London from April 10-11, Kerry plans to visit South Korea, Japan and China, according to department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

   "The secretary will meet with counterparts and discuss the full range of bilateral, multilateral and regional issues as well as our economic cooperation and the environment," she said at a press briefing.

   She did not specify Kerry's itinerary.

   A diplomatic source said South Korea and the U.S. are still in consultations about an exact schedule.

   "Given Secretary Kerry's tight schedule, he is expected to stay in South Korea as long as 24 hours," the source said.

   In Seoul, Kerry will meet with President Park Geun-hye and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se to discuss the North Korea problem and bilateral alliance issues, added the source.

   Park is preparing to hold her first summit talks with U.S. President Barack Obama in early May.

   "It has not been decided yet which country he will first travel to among South Korea, Japan and China," the source said.

   Separately, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will travel to South Korea later this month, Pentagon Press Secretary George Littles said.

   Carter will visit "Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia March 17 - 21," he said.

   It will provide him with an opportunity to "continue U.S. defense consultations on a range of common security challenges," he added.

   The Obama administration has been trying to rebalance its diplomacy and military presence towards the Asia-Pacific region.