By David Gura
This morning, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates embarked on a ten-day trip to Asia and Europe, during which he'll try to manage tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and bolster the international commitment to the war in Afghanistan.
He is planning to stop in Singapore, London, and Brussels, Belgium. According to the Associated Press, Gates had hoped to visit Beijing, but that leg of the trip has been postponed.
"China has ruled out a stopover by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who had hoped to make military ties with Beijing the centerpiece of his trip to Asia this week," the Associated Press reports.
Beijing didn't elaborate, but China leaders were angered by the Obama administration's recent decision to go ahead with arms sales to Taiwan worth more than $6 billion.
Gates will travel to Singapore, where he plans to take part in The Shangri-La Dialogue, a global security conference. He will also have one-on-one meetings with his counterparts from several countries, including South Korea, NPR's Rachel Martin reports. Lee Myung-bak, the president of South Korea, will deliver the keynote address there, on Friday.
According to Martin, senior defense officials say Gates is expected to reinforce US support for the defense of South Korea, which remains "unequivocal."
The secretary will also travel to London, where he'll meet with David Cameron, the new prime minister of the United Kingdom. Next stop: Brussels, for NATO Defence Ministerial Meetings, where Afghanistan will be front and center.
Gates is expected to push for renewed commitments from NATO alliance partners, as the US prepares for a major offensive in Kandahar this summer.