Mattis describes North Korea Regime as 'Threat to the Entire World'
29 January, 2018, 11:02 | Author: Juana Mckenzie
Speaking on his flight before landing at Pearl Harbor, Mattis also noted the USA was ready to "fight tonight" alongside South Korea, if attacked by the North.
The remarks come amid a relative ease in the months-long tensions over North Korea's weapons and nuclear activities.
"We could fight tonight, shoulder to shoulder with the Koreans - or South Koreans, if they're attacked", Mattis added.
South Korean and US defense chiefs met Friday to discuss North Korea, issuing a statement that continued diplomacy-backed sanctions can drive the rogue state to the negotiating table and tamp down the escalating threats between Pyongyang and Washington.
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Any North Korean attack would be "severely rebuffed", Mattis added. "It's an worldwide problem that requires an global solution", he added.
But Mattis pointed out that South Korean officials have promised to limit the talks to Olympics-related topics.
The U.S. did not take part in recent talks between North Korea and South Korea that have centered on participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics in February, but U.S. officials insisted that the two sides would not negotiate any details of the north's nuclear program without the U.S. present. The South Korean Ministry of National Defense said the two ministers "stressed that any effort to drive a wedge in the South Korea-US alliance would not succeed, and agreed to continue cooperative closely so that North Korea changes its attitude and comes to the negotiating table to discuss denuclearization".
North and South Korea remain in a technical state of war, since their 1950s conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
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The show of unity has temporarily offered some respite from the growing concerns over North Korea's nuclear ambition.
USA and South Korean military officials insist the war games, which involve tens of thousands of troops, are defensive in nature and necessary to maintain a constant state of readiness. "The global pressure campaign must continue".
The goal remains the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Mattis told reporters at U.S. Pacific Command's headquarters at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, with South Korea Minister of Defense Song Young-moo.
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He thanked USA allies in the region for their support in upholding ongoing sanctions against North Korean products that have been ratcheted up in response to a slew of missile tests in 2017.
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