Kerry to visit Japan, Indonesia

Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Japan and Indonesia next week to renew US efforts to build ties in Asia amid his focus on the Middle East, officials said Thursday.

Kerry will join Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for security talks with close US ally Japan on October 2-3 in Tokyo, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The meeting provides "an opportunity to build on our already broad and comprehensive bilateral relationship," she said in a statement.

Kerry will then head to the Indonesian island of Bali for talks of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, joining President Barack Obama at a summit.

"APEC is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade, and investment in the Asia-Pacific region," Psaki said.

"Promoting trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific remains a key component of the US rebalance policy."

Obama -- who will also visit Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines -- in his first term launched a "pivot" strategy of putting greater focus on Asia, seeing the dynamic region as neglected due to past focus on conflict zones.

Kerry, while pledging full commitment to the Asia pivot, has invested more time in the Middle East as he tries to push forward an elusive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Japan will be the first Asian country that Kerry will visit more than once as secretary of state.

The top US diplomat has said that he hoped at some point to visit Vietnam, where his military service proved a formative experience.