US defense chief vows 'ironclad' resolve to defend S Korea after peace talks with North
Iran Press TV
Sun Apr 29, 2018 02:30AM
US Defense Secretary James Mattis has reiterated what he referred to as American "ironclad" commitment to defend South Korea a day after Seoul signed a joint peace declaration with the North in which both sides vowed to work toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and formally end the Korean War.
The announcement came in a statement issued Saturday by Pentagon's chief spokesperson Dana White, saying that Mattis made the pledge while discussing the outcome of the inter-Korea summit with his South Korean counterpart Song Young-moo.
"Secretary Mattis reaffirmed the ironclad US commitment to defend the ROK (Republic of Korea) using the full spectrum of US capabilities," said the statement.
It further noted that the two military chiefs "expressed serious commitment to a diplomatic resolution that achieves complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea, as reflected in multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions."
The renewed commitment by the US military comes on the same day that American President Donald Trump spoke with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in, stating afterwards that the time and location for his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is being worked out.
The development comes as US analysts are cited in press reports as saying that the Korean peace talks will likely weaken the two levers that Trump has used to pressure Kim to come to the bargaining table.
A resumption of regular diplomatic exchanges between the two Koreas "will inevitably erode the crippling economic sanctions against the North, while Mr. Trump will find it hard to threaten military action against a country that is extending an olive branch," said the The New York Times in a Saturday column, citing US analysts.
To meet his own definition of success, the daily added, Trump will have to convince Kim to accept "comprehensive, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" of North Korea – "something that Mr. Kim has shown no willingness to accept in the past."
Trump further stated on Saturday that he had a "very good talk" with Moon, insisting in a twitter message that "things are going well. Time and location of meeting with North Korea is being set."
He also said he had briefed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the Korea developments.
According to the Times, Washington could face "a split with its ally South Korea, which is deeply invested in ending its estrangement from the North," adding that tensions could flare with Pyongyang's main trading partner China, "which only grudgingly signed on to the sanctions and would be likely to balk at keeping them in place if Mr. Kim is talking about peace."
"With the North seeking to re-establish diplomatic and economic ties to the South, Mr. Trump will find it difficult to play the cards he used during his first year in office," added the US daily. "Some analysts said Mr. Kim's outreach to Mr. Moon amounted to a kind of insurance policy against Mr. Trump."
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