A top US military officer will be trying to contain the fallout between Seoul and Tokyo on his first overseas trip on the job. "It is in our interests to keep all three of us very closely aligned," US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said of South Korea and Japan while en route to the region, according to a press release from the US Department of Defence on Monday, Xinhua reported.
The overseas trip, the first since he assumed office on September 30, reflected concern among US officials over the straining relationship between its two Asian allies.
"We've got to get past some of these friction points in a way that is helpful to the alliance," Milley said.
According to US media reports, Milley's first stop will be in Japan, before he visits other locations covered by the US Indo-Pacific Command.
Milley's visit represents a refreshed effort to mediate the bitter diplomatic row between Seoul and Tokyo.
The relationship of the Asian neighbours has sharply worsened after South Korea's top court ordered Japanese firms to pay compensation to forced labourers during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Japan, for its part, has claimed the rulings are not in line with international law and run contrary to the foundation of friendly and cooperative relations between the two neighbours since the 1965 normalisation of diplomatic ties.