The new U.S. Assistant Secretary of State of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, David Stilwell, is starting his first overseas trip since assuming the role last month.
He's touring Asia... and his multi-nation trip takes him to South Korea and Japan as the two remain at odds over Tokyo's exports curbs.
Officials say Stilwell will be in Tokyo from Thursday until Sunday.
He'll arrive in Seoul next Wednesday.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has welcomed the new assistant secretary,... saying he's looking forward to working closely with Stillwell in leading many critical partnerships and alliances throughout the region.
The U.S. State Department has been keen to avoid the impression Stillwell is taking sides between South Korea and Japan amid the heightened tensions.
And, we're just learning that Seoul's foreign affairs minister Kang Kyung-wha and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke over the phone just hours ago during which they discussed the current situation regarding Japan's export restrictions on South Korea.