July 20 (Reuters) - U.S. national security adviser John Bolton departed on Saturday on a trip to Japan and South Korea as the two countries are in the middle of a trade dispute.
A White House National Security Council spokesman said on Twitter that Bolton planned to “continue conversations with critical allies and friends.”
President Donald Trump offered on Friday to help ease tensions in the political and economic dispute between the United States’ two biggest allies in Asia, which threatens global supplies of memory chips and smartphones.
Lingering tension, particularly over the issue of compensation for South Koreans forced to work for Japanese occupiers during World War Two, worsened this month when Japan restricted exports of high-tech materials to South Korea.
Japan has denied that the dispute over compensation is behind the export curbs, even though one of its ministers cited broken trust with South Korea over the labor dispute in announcing the restrictions.
The export curbs could hurt global technology companies.
Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday that South Korean President Moon Jae-in had asked him if he could get involved.
A spokeswoman for Moon confirmed Moon had asked Trump for help at their Seoul summit on June 30. (Reporting by Christopher Bing; Editing by Daniel Wallis)