|US SecDef Jim Mattis|
By Thomas WATKINS, Martin ABBUGAO
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis moved to reassure Asian allies Saturday that the United States can work with China on reining in North Korea's nuclear weapons programme without compromising its opposition to Beijing's continued "militarisation" of the South China Sea.
President Donald Trump -- who frequently denounced China on the campaign trail -- has turned to Beijing to help pressure Pyongyang, prompting broad concerns that America will go easy on China's maritime activities.
Longstanding partners are also mortified that Trump has seemed indifferent to traditional alliances, and have interpreted his pulling out of a trans-Pacific trade deal and the Paris climate accords as signs of broader American disengagement.
Mattis, arguably Trump's most important statesman as the new president hopes to slash the State Department, tried to allay the fears.
"In the security arena, we have a deep and abiding commitment to reinforcing the rules-based international order, a product of so many nations' efforts to create stability," Mattis said in Singapore at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a major defence summit for countries from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
Calling North Korea's nuclear ambitions a "threat to us all," Mattis asked the international community to come together on the issue.
It is "imperative that we do our part each of us to fulfill our obligations and work together to support our shared goal of denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula," Mattis said.
Read the full story at SpaceDaily