WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2017 — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis emphasized the U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific region and its alliance with South Korea in separate meetings with South Korean leaders today, Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross said.
Mattis is on a four-day trip to South Korea and Japan.
In a statement summarizing the meetings, Ross said Mattis met in the South Korean capital of Seoul with Foreign Affairs Minister Yun Byung-se and Defense Minister Han Min-koo.
In the meetings, Mattis noted that his first trip to South Korea as defense secretary underscored the priority the Trump administration places on the region and on strengthening the U.S.-South Korean alliance, Ross said.
Mattis said the United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the defense of the South Korean people, Ross said. The secretary also emphasized that any attack on the United States or its allies will be defeated, and that any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming, he added.
“During both meetings,” Ross said, “Secretary Mattis and his [South Korean] counterparts discussed the regional security environment, including the evolving threats posed by North Korea, and determined the need to continue to consult and cooperate closely together.”
Mattis and Han further resolved to move forward with critical defensive measures, such as deploying a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery to South Korea, enhancing alliance readiness, and taking steps to improve trilateral cooperation with Japan, the spokesman said.
The secretary concluded both meetings by reiterating that he looks forward to working closely with Yun and Han to further strengthen the U.S.-South Korean alliance, Ross said.