U.S. President Donald Trump's Defense Secretary James Mattis leaves for his debut trip to Asia. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. President Donald Trump's Defense Secretary James Mattis left for his debut trip to Asia on Wednesday (February 1) where he is expected to underscore U.S. security commitments to key allies South Korea and Japan as concerns mount over North Korea's missile program and tensions with China. The trip is the first for retired Marine General James Mattis since becoming Trump's Pentagon chief and is also the first foreign trip by any of Trump's cabinet secretaries. Officials say the fact that Mattis is first heading to Asia - as opposed to perhaps visiting troops in Iraq or Afghanistan - is meant to reaffirm ties with two Asian allies hosting nearly 80,000 American troops and the importance of the region overall. That U.S. reaffirmation could be critical after Trump appeared to question the cost of such U.S. alliances during the election campaign. He also jolted the region by pulling Washington out of an Asia-Pacific trade deal that Japan had championed. Trump himself has spoken with the leaders of both Japan and South Korea in recent days and will host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington on Feb. 10. Mattis heads first to Seoul before continuing to Tokyo on Feb. 3.