Friday, August 18, 2017

US Affirms Readiness to Defend Itself, Allies Against N. Korea

U.S. officials said Thursday that the United States remained unwavering in its commitment to Asian allies in the wake of threats from North Korea, while indicating diplomacy “has to be backed by a strong military consequence.”

In U.S.-Japan defense and diplomatic talks, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Washington would take immediate and specific actions to take down any missile launched by North Korea toward the territory of the U.S. or its allies.

Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in “two-plus-two” meetings with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Foreign Minister Taro Kono, reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to protecting Tokyo as Pyongyang intensifies its threats.

“Together, we will deter and, if necessary, defeat any threat. Any initiation of hostilities will be met with an effective and overwhelming response. Our two nations will demonstrate the strength of our alliance by continuing those bilateral activities and by enhancing cooperation with the Republic of Korea,” said Mattis.

North Korea has repeatedly threatened to target Japan, which hosts about 54,000 U.S. military personnel, as well as South Korea and the United States with its missiles

Military option ‘prudent’

As the top U.S. diplomat, Tillerson said Washington would continue diplomatic efforts “first and foremost,” but “it is only prudent” that military action remains a choice.

“Obviously, any diplomatic effort in any situation where you have this level of threat that we’re confronted with — a threat of proportions that none of us like to contemplate — has to be backed by a strong military consequence if North Korea chooses wrongly,” Tillerson said.

The meetings came amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea threatened to fire missiles into the waters close to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. The missiles would have to fly over Japan to reach their target, worrying Tokyo that warheads or missile debris could fall on its territory.

On Wednesday, two Japanese F-15 jet fighters conducted air maneuvers with two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers over the southwestern part of the Korean Peninsula. The exercise was meant to improve interoperability and bolster combat skills, Japan’s Air Self Defense Force said in a news release.

Japan’s Kono said talks with Pyongyang would not be possible until it stopped its nuclear provocation.

“There’s no sense to dialogue for the sake of dialogue,” Kono said via a translator, adding that “the international community will continue to apply maximum pressure to North Korea.”

Share with short URL:


Total Pageviews

Popular Posts