[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/02/clinton.asia/art.hillary.clinton.afp.gi.jpg caption="Bill Clinton looks on during his wife's ceremonial swearing in Monday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Bucking tradition, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will bypass Europe and travel to Asia on her maiden voyage overseas, diplomats familiar with the planning said Tuesday.
Clinton is expected to visit China, Japan and South Korea on her first trip overseas. The diplomats said she may also add other stops, including one in Southeast Asia.
The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because Clinton's schedule was still being finalized. The State Department has not commented on her travel plans.
Making Asia Clinton's first overseas destination illustrates the Obama administration's desire for a broader partnership with China and its commitment to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, as well as strengthening ties with Tokyo and Seoul, the diplomats said.
The White House said President Barack Obama told Chinese President Hu Jintao in a Friday phone call that he looked forward to "to early contacts and exchanges between senior officials of our two countries."