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Secretary Mattis Bilat with ROK MOD

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Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Song Young-moo, Republic of Korea Minister of National Defense
Jan. 26, 2018
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SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS: Minister Song, it's a pleasure to welcome you to the U.S.-Pacific Command Headquarters, and we're grateful here that your's and my schedules aligned to permit this ongoing face-to-face consultation.

I'm returning from Indonesia and Vietnam where America is strengthening valuable partnerships. And here today, you and I meet as members of an alliance, an iron-clad and irreplaceable alliance.

Ladies and gentleman, the minister of defense of the Republic of Korea will always be welcome in our headquarters. And here in beautiful Hawaii, we're reminded that America is an enduring Pacific power. Five of our states, plus territories, all touch on this shared ocean.

The Kim regime is a threat to the entire world. It's an international problem that requires an international solution.

Our response to this threat remains diplomacy-led, backed up with military options available to ensure that our diplomats are understood to be speaking from a position of strength.

And, Minister Song, I want to praise your nation's steadfast action, upholding the United Nations sanctions at sea.

The Republic of Korea has impounded two ships that were found violating the United Nations resolutions, using ship-to-ship transfer of cargo at sea.

As usual, the Republic of Korea leads by example in carrying out the United Nations' sanctions.

In so doing, sir, you remind the DPRK that risking its economy to boost its rockets makes it less secure, not more.

As two peace-loving nations, the Republic of Korea and America welcome the Olympic Games talks between the ROK and DPRK. And at the same time, remaining steadfast that the international economic pressure campaign can de-nuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

Diplomacy should repose reason on Kim's reckless rhetoric and dangerous provocations.

So we do not lose sight of the fact that the Olympics talks alone do not address over-arching problems.

Accordingly, our combined military stands shoulder to shoulder, ready to defend against any attack on the ROK or USA.

As Secretary Tillerson has said, our aim remains a complete and verifiable and irreversible de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

And Russia, France, the Chinese, United Kingdom, United States and others in three unanimous security council resolutions have spoken with one voice.

So the international pressure campaign must continue if we remind the world, those listening in Pyongyang and elsewhere, of what responsible members of the international [coalition] stand for and what we will not tolerate.

Minister Song, thank you again for traveling to Hawaii, so we can continue our close consultations.

As always, I look forward to our conversation. And would you like to make a few public remarks before we sit down together?

MINISTER SONG YOUNG-MOO (through translator): Secretary Mattis, Admiral Harris, I believe this is the third or fourth time that I've been in this room.

And I've been here as an active-duty navy officer. And now that I'm here as the minister of national defense, especially with the journalists, I would like to say welcome, and it is great to be back.

First, Secretary Mattis, I know he has a very busy schedule that has spanned the entire Southeast Asia recently, and despite his busy schedule, it is great to be able to see him at this -- at this place in Hawaii, the PACOM Pacific Command.

Secretary Mattis and I share an understanding that we should not only maintain close communication at all times, 365 days -- 365 days a year, but also that we should be able to see each other as often as possible.

I believe this conference can speak to the shared countenance of myself and Secretary Mattis, that we both understand each other well, and that as an alliance we always go together.

On the issues of UNSC resolutions and the North Korean problem, Secretary Mattis has already spoken at length, so I be mentioning (inaudible).

Through this conference, Secretary Mattis and I will be discussing the firm ROK-U.S. alliance, as well as reaffirming the firm coordination between Iraq and U.S. against North Korea in order to de-nuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

At the same time, we will also be discussing some measures of cooperation between our two countries, to ensure the safe and peaceful opening of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

And Secretary Mattis and I will also be exchanging our opinions on President Moon Jae-in's statement that the inter-Korea dialogue is a dialogue ultimately to draw out North Korea to a dialogue with the United States.

And furthermore, we will also be discussing some of the alliance issues in order to further strengthen the combined defense posture, and I believe and I am certain that this conference will be another opportunity for us to further consolidate and strengthen the alliance.

I would like to once again emphasize that I'm delighted to be here with Secretary Mattis and Admiral Harris. And this afternoon, I am looking forward to the deep and honest conversation that we'll be having. Thank you.

SEC. MATTIS: Thank you. Again, (inaudible), welcome back to Hawaii. Thank you, everybody.