Pentagon chief tries to keep Asia in focus with second trip

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is trying to retain its focus on Asia with a second trip to the region by Defense Secretary Mark Esper. He sets out Wednesday for a weeklong trip as the Middle East again commands more attention in Washington and more demands on U.S. troops.

Both of Esper’s Asia visits illustrate the central feature of a revamped U.S. defense strategy: Focus first on China as a threat to U.S. global predominance, rather than remain bogged down in a generation-long fight against extremist groups.

Esper is scheduled to fly to South Korea for consultations on jointly defending against North Korea, whose nuclear arsenal remains a key focus for Pentagon war planners. He also plans to visit Thailand and Vietnam and the Philippines.

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