Mattis criticizes NKorea ahead of talks with Japan, SKorea

Mattis criticizes NKorea ahead of talks with Japan, SKorea

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — In his first public remarks abroad as U.S. defence secretary, Jim Mattis on Thursday criticized North Korea for provocative acts and said he would consult with South Korean and Japanese officials about whether the current strategy for getting the North to curtail or eliminate its nuclear and missile programs is adequate.

Mattis spoke to reporters aboard his military plane en route to Osan air base from Washington. In the brief interview, he said he would be discussing the plan to install a new U.S. missile defence system, called Thaad, in South Korea as a means of deterring the North’s ballistic missile threats against South Korean and Japan.

North Korea also has said it is nearly ready to test-launch a ballistic missile of intercontinental range, meaning it could theoretically threat the United States.

“Were it not for the provocative behaviour of North Korea, we would have no need for Thaad out here,” Mattis said.

Alluding to China’s objections to having Thaad deployed in South Korea, Mattis said, “Thaad should be a worry to no nation other than North Korea.”

Mattis held an introductory meeting with Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who said he looked forward to working with the Trump administration.

Mattis said he was delivering a message from Trump.

“I talked to President Trump and he wanted to make a very clear statement about the priority that we place on this alliance between our two nations, the secretary said. “Our new administration inherits a very strong, trusted relationship between our two countries and it’s our commitment to make it even stronger especially in the face of the provocations that you face from North Korea.”

After a series of meetings in Seoul on Thursday and Friday, Mattis was scheduled to fly to Tokyo for further consultations.

In Washington this week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held its first policy hearing since Trump took office to discuss North Korea. There were more questions than answers.

Last month, Trump fueled speculation of possible U.S. military action to pre-empt North Korea’s weapons development. In response to Kim’s threat, Trump tweeted, “It won’t happen!” But he didn’t elaborate how he could be so sure.

“Does that mean we have drawn a red line?” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., asked at Tuesday’s Senate hearing.

Those questions and more will be posed to Mattis when he meets top officials in Seoul on Thursday and Tokyo later in the week, two jittery allies that host nearly 80,000 U.S. troops.

During the campaign, Trump complained that defence treaties disadvantaged the U.S. and that he would not rule out abandoning signatories if they refuse to pay more for their defence. He also suggested that South Korea and Japan, which are already within the range of North Korean missiles, might acquire their own nuclear weapons rather than rely on U.S. deterrence.

Robert Burns, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Kelowna and Lake Country popular stories from the week

The Capital News and Calendar highlight popular stories every Saturday afternoon

Cook kicks off byelection campaign in West Kelowna

The campaign office will be open seven days a week in the Westbank Shopping Centre

Kelowna students complete D.A.R.E. program

Students at Heritage Christian School received their certificates Friday

Dual-credit film program approved for Central Okanagan students

The Central Okanagan Public Schools is developing a program with the Vancouver Film School

Kelowna youth wellness centre receives $10,000 donation

The Foundry received a cheque from the Rotary Club of Kelowna Sunrise Friday

Disappointing turnout for Kelowna women’s march

The Kelowna Women’s March on Washington was held Saturday, Jan. 20

Rockets take down Royals

Kole Lind has four points and Jack Cowell scores twice as Rockets rebound from 7-2 loss at Seattle

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Most Read