We seek no war but denuclearisation of Korean Peninsula – U.S
Donland Trump, U.S. President
Visiting U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis said Friday that his country seeks no war, but denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
The U.S. defence chief arrived in South Korea earlier in the day and visited the Joint Security Area (JSA) at the truce village of Panmunjom on the first day of his two-day trip.
During the visit, Mattis said his country’s goal was not war but a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the peninsula, according to local media reports.
Mattis said the U.S. stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the South Korean people to counter threats from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), noting that his country made clear its willingness toward diplomatic solutions to deal with the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula.
Inside the JSA, soldiers of South Korea and the DPRK stand face-to-face just meters away from each other.
It is Mattis’ first visit to Panmunjom inside the Demilitarised Zone separating the two Koreas.
Mattis, who took office in January, made his first trip to South Korea in February, but he did not visit the JSA at the time.
His comments on diplomatic solutions came amid escalated tensions on the peninsula.
The DPRK conducted its sixth nuclear test in early September and a series of ballistic missile launches in recent months.
The war of bombastic rhetoric was exchanged between Pyongyang and Washington. UN Security Council adopted a new resolution toughening sanctions on the DPRK over its sixth and most powerful nuclear detonation.
Inspite of the UN Security Council’s unanimous denunciation, Mattis said, the DPRK continued provocations, posing a threat to security in the region and the world.
He promised to maintain a firm military preparedness for peace and stability on the peninsula and the defence of the two allies, saying the U.S.-South Korea alliance lasted for more than 60 years and was built on trust.
South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo, who accompanied the Pentagon chief, told reporters that nuclear and ballistic missiles the DPRK developed are weapons that cannot be used.
If the DPRK uses them, Song said, it will face retaliation by the strong combined forces of South Korea and the United States. He strongly urged Pyongyang to stop reckless provocation and return to the inter-Korean dialogue for peace.
Song and Mattis will hold the 49th Security Consultative Meeting, an annual security dialogue between South Korea and the United States, at the defence ministry’s headquarters in Seoul on Saturday.
Attending the meeting will be senior defence and diplomatic officials from both sides, the Seoul ministry said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, the 42nd Military Committee Meeting was launched in Seoul between Jeong Kyeong-doo, chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and his U.S. counterpart Joseph Dunford.
On the dialogue agenda were recent security situations, the establishment of the combined military preparedness and the transfer of conditions-based wartime operational control of South Korean forces from Washington to Seoul.
The security meetings between top defence chiefs of South Korea and the United States came ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s two-day state trip to South Korea from Nov. 7. During his stay, Trump will hold a summit meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and deliver a speech in the National Assembly. NAN