Kerry off on 5th trip to Asia in a year _lowres

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department in Washington, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, after a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is making his fifth trip to Asia as America’s top diplomat, traveling to South Korea, China and Indonesia to seek an easing of tensions over territorial disputes.

Kerry departed Washington on Wednesday for Seoul as senior North and South Korean officials held their highest-level talks in years but as the North continues to complain about upcoming U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

Kerry will later visit Beijing and Jakarta. His trip comes as strains rise between China and its smaller neighbors over conflicting claims in the East and South China seas, with China taking an increasingly assertive stance.

After the Indonesia stop, Kerry will fly on to the United Arab Emirates before returning home.