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Mattis hints at rescheduling of joint military drills

Posted January. 01, 2018 07:28,   

Updated January. 01, 2018 08:05


U.S. President Donald Trump’s defense chief has made his first response after South Korean President Moon Jae-in suggested postponing joint military exercises of the two allies.

“We always adjust exercise dates,” U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon Friday. “We have ships available at certain times and there's political considerations or there's local holidays and this sort of thing.”

“The rescheduling of exercises will be, as always, subject to both countries,” Mattis added. “That'll be announced by the U.S. and ROK government. I honestly don't have the answer to that question right now.”

Asked if the U.S. plans to pause military exercises, he made it clear that the rescheduling should not be regarded as a pause, adding “If a pause is, I’m pausing them for a period of time because of a diplomatic issue or something. I don’t anticipate that right now.”

Politico, an American political journalism reported that Mattis is seen as leaving the door open to reschedule but being not able to make clear about it due to potential provocations by North Korea.

The U.S. Defense Secretary reaffirmed the existing stance on North Korea that the United States places priority on diplomatic solutions not excluding possible war with North Korea. Asked if Washington is nearing to war with Pyongyang, Mattis said that he, as the defense secretary, provides military option but the diplomacy from the international community takes the lead.

Jeong-Hun Park sunshade@donga.com