Mattis vows ‘ironclad’ commitment to South Korean security

Mattis vows ‘ironclad’ commitment to South Korean security
© Getty Images

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOnly Donald Trump has a policy for Afghanistan New Pentagon report blames Trump troop withdrawal for ISIS surge in Iraq and Syria Mattis returns to board of General Dynamics MORE told South Korea that the U.S. has an "ironclad" commitment to South Korea on Thursday as Washington and Pyongyang continue to hammer out the details of the denuclearization agreement.

“U.S. commitment to the Republic of Korea remains ironclad and the U.S. will continue to use the full range of diplomatic and military capabilities to uphold this commitment,” Mattis said prior to a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Song Young-moo in Seoul, according to Reuters. 

“And this includes maintaining the current U.S. force levels on the Korean peninsula,” he continued. 

Mattis said that U.S. and South Korean forces would be “united, vigilant and ready," adding that the decision to put off its joint military drills with South Korea would make dialogue with North Korea easier. 

“The two ministers agreed to continue exploring confidence and peace-building measures as long as North Korea continues dialogue in good faith,” Mattis and Song said in a joint statement. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Mattis's trip comes weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE met face-to-face in Singapore and signed an agreement committing the U.S. to unspecified security guarantees in exchange for a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

Trump said earlier this month that the U.S. no longer faced a nuclear threat from North Korea. 

"Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office," Trump said in a tweet. "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!"

However, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoLatest pro-democracy rally draws tens of thousands in Hong Kong 63 killed in blast at Afghan wedding as Taliban, US negotiate troop withdrawal Trump meets with national security team on Afghanistan peace plan MORE corrected Trump on Wednesday, saying that the U.S. still faces a nuclear threat from North Korea. 

"I'm confident what he intended there was, 'we did reduce the threat,'" Pompeo said, referring to Trump's comment. "I don't think there's any doubt about that."