U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel this month to Chengdu, China, the capital of Sichuan province that was struck by a massive earthquake in May, the State Department said on Thursday.
Rice will visit Chengdu on June 29 as part of an Asian trip that will also include stops in the Japanese city of Kyoto, Seoul and Beijing, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said.
In all three Asian stops, she is expected to discuss the status of multilateral talks on reining in North Korea's nuclear program, amid expectations that Pyongyang will soon make a long-overdue declaration of its nuclear activities.
Rice will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Chengdu since the earthquake. Casey said she would express the "condolences of the American people" for the disaster, which killed more than 70,000 people.
She will meet local officials and representatives of aid organizations that have been working there, Casey said.
The United States has provided some $1.5 million in humanitarian aid to China since the quake. Together with Defense Department funds, most of which are spent on transportation and logistics in delivering the aid, the U.S. government has spent over $3.7 million to help the victims, the U.S. Agency for International Development said.
Ahead of her trip to Asia, Rice travels early next week to Berlin for an international conference in support of Palestinian civil security and the rule of law, Casey said.
Then Rice flies to Japan for a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Eight industrial nations June 26-28. She will be in Seoul on June 28, and visit Chengdu June 29 before flying to Beijing the same day for talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.