By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2017 — U.S. and South Korean defense leaders are today discussing ways to make the alliance stronger in face of continued outrageous acts by North Korea.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hosted South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo at the Pentagon today, the day after North Korea shot an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan.
The visit is Song’s first in his position. “It says a great deal about the priority you and your president [Moon Jae-in] place on the relationship,” Mattis said in opening remarks at the meeting.
Mattis said the world will continue to seek diplomatic solutions to the problem posed by North Korea. “We are never out of diplomatic solutions,” he said. “The minister and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations and our interests, which is what we are here to discuss.”
The secretary noted the U.S.-South Korea alliance has been a cornerstone of peace in the region since the armistice halted the Korean War in 1953. “We share a commitment to democratic values and work together to maintain a stable environment so all can prosper,” Mattis said.
“As we have seen, the threat to security in the Northwest Pacific has become more severe and our nations’ defense relationship becomes more important than ever and remains the bedrock for international efforts to temper North Korea’s aggressive actions,” he said.
Mattis pointed to recent United Nations actions to impose sanctions and the communique that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations released following its most recent meeting as proof that the international community is resolved to counter North Korea’s destabilizing actions.
“Here in Washington, we are keenly aware that South Korea is on the front line and we are not complacent,” Mattis told Song.
“Clearly, the world is paying close attention to the [South Korean]-U.S. alliance because of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile strides,” Song said through a translator. “I have no doubt these issues will be resolved due to the strength of the U.S.-[South Korean] alliance.”