South Korea, US to hold larger-scale joint war games in spring

Janis ColeFeb 04, 2017

His visit is also seen as a sign of the priority the administration is placing on North Korea.

Before leaving South Korea, Mr Mattis said a nuclear attack by North Korea would trigger an "effective and overwhelming" response.

When asked what strategy the Trump administration will take on the North Korea issue, Mattis made clear that his first visit will focus on speaking with South Korean leaders, so that he may gather their "appreciation of the situation" before any formal statement scan be made on the subject. -South Korean alliance and that no other nation needs to be anxious about THAAD except the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The two allies previous year announced the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system following a series of atomic and missile tests, infuriating China which fears it will undermine its own ballistic capabilities.

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Mattis met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today - another ally strongly opposed to Kim's regime. This view doubtless influenced the administration's decision to send Mattis to Japan and South Korea, countries that will play a central role in the United States' efforts to constrain, or militarily contain, China.

Mattis emphasized once again during his visit to Seoul that THAAD is exclusively created to protect South Korea from North Korean ballistic missiles, but Beijing is unlikely to be mollified.

During the series of meetings, Mattis, a retired Marine general, is expected to agree with Japanese officials on the importance of maintaining a strong alliance amid North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs as well as China's maritime assertiveness, with Japan keen to emphasize that US engagement is vital to ensuring stability in the Asia-Pacific region. "And it's our commitment to make it even stronger, especially in the face of provocations that you face from the North".

"There's a likelihood of Chinese boycott of South Korea goods or protest rallies against South Korea, caused by nationalist sentiment in China", the institute said.

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The visit comes amid increasing threats from North Korea that it is ready to test-fire a new intercontinental ballistic missile at any time.

In January, U.S. President Donald Trump seemed to suggest that the U.S. may be prepared to carry out some sort of military action to prevent North Korea's weapons development.

The missile system has caused some controversy, as both China and Russian Federation see it as a provocative move, with China claiming it would allow the U.S.to spy on its military.

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min Koo said that THAAD deployment was discussed in his meeting with Mattis.

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