Korea talks can’t distract from denuclearization: Mattis
Washinton :US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says that Olympics talks between North and South Korea should not lead to distraction from the goal of denuclearizing Pyongyang.
Mattis made the remarks Friday during a photo session with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo at US Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii a day after Seoul’s top diplomat said a military solution would not be acceptable.
“Diplomacy should impose reason on Kim’s reckless rhetoric and dangerous provocations,” Mattis said. “The international pressure campaign must continue.”
Song said the talks with the North are “about ultimately drawing the North into a dialogue with the United States.”
“We both understand each other well and that as an alliance, we always go together,” he added.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that the notion of using military force to make North Korea stop its nuclear program was “unacceptable.”
South Korea, for the first time in recent times, suggests the North’s crisis should be resolved diplomatically.
Kang said she was positive the United States, her country’s main ally in the standoff with North Korea, would obtain South Korea’s approval before any military action on the issue.
The remarks come amid a relative ease in the months-long tensions over North Korea’s weapons and nuclear activities.
Seoul has offered an olive branch to Pyongyang by inviting the North’s athletes to this year’s Winter Olympics while representatives from the two countries have held limited talks on some military issues.
The US, however, has imposed new sanctions on North Korea and Chinese firms and individuals that support Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
The Treasury Department said Wednesday it was targeting nine entities, 16 individuals and six vessels in several countries that finance or support North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
North Korea has been under a raft of harsh UN sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear tests as well as multiple rocket and missile launches. Pyongyang has firmly defended its military program as a deterrent against the hostile policies of the US and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.