WASHINGTON, March 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will convene the first U.S.-hosted ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next week, a Pentagon spokesman said on Thursday.
Following the meeting, Hagel will travel to the Asia-Pacific region for visits with his counterparts in Japan, China and Mongolia, Defense Department Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters at a Pentagon press briefing.
The trip will be Hagel's fourth official visit to the Asia-Pacific, a region of growing importance and emphasis for U.S. foreign policy and its defense strategy, the press secretary said.
From Hawaii, Hagel will travel to Japan for his second visit there as defense secretary, Kirby said, adding that "this upcoming trip is an opportunity to discuss those ongoing efforts and as well as other regional security matters."
Next, Hagel will make his first visit as defense secretary to China.
"He's very much looking forward to this visit," Kirby said, noting that in China, Hagel will have a full complement of bilateral engagements focusing on the military-to-military relationship and on regional security issues.
Hagel's final stop will be in Mongolia, the first visit there by a U.S. defense chief in nearly 10 years, according to Kirby.