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North Korea threatening 'others with catastrophe': Mattis


Panmunjom (South Korea), Oct 27: US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, who arrived in South Korea on Friday, accused North Korea of building a nuclear arsenal to "threaten others with catastrophe".

He said the Trump administration remains committed to compelling the North to accept complete nuclear disarmament.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis

Calling the North a threat to global order, Mattis stood inside the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas and pledged solidarity with the South.

"We stand should to shoulder with you and the Korean people in confronting the threats posed by the Kim Jong Un regime," Mattis said as South Korean Defence Minister Song Young-moo looked on.

Mattis called the North "an oppressive regime that shackles its people, denying their freedom, their welfare and their human dignity in pursuit of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery in order to threaten others with catastrophe."

Making time to visit a US-South Korean military observation post to peer into the North, Mattis was also briefed on conditions along the border created after a truce halted the Korean War in 1953.

Mattis arrived in South Korea earlier Friday to meet with the nation's top defense officials and American military commanders on the front line in countering North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Mattis is emphasising the Trump administration's push for a diplomatic solution to the problem. But he also has said the US is prepared to take military action if the North does not halt its development of missiles that could strike the entirety of the United States, potentially with a nuclear warhead.

On his second trip as defence secretary to the US ally, Mattis will meet with South Korean officials as part of an annual consultation on defense issues on the Korean peninsula. He'll be joined in Seoul by the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Joseph Dunford. President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit the city next month.

Two other developments Thursday showed the US intention to continue building diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang. The Trump administration imposed sanctions on 10 North Korean officials and organizations over human rights abuses and censorship, including a diplomat in China accused of forcing North Korean asylum seekers home.

Meanwhile, a rare military exercise involving three of the US Navy's aircraft carrier strike groups was being planned for next month in the Asia Pacific, a US official said. The likely exercise would happen around the time that Trump travels to the region.

Trump entered office declaring his commitment to solving the North Korea problem, asserting that he would succeed where his predecessors had failed. His administration has sought to increase pressure on Pyongyang through UN Security Council sanctions and other diplomatic efforts, but the North hasn't budged from its goal of building a full-fledged nuclear arsenal, including missiles capable of striking the US mainland.


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