USA defense chief reiterates commitment to defend S.Korea

Withdrawing US troops from S. Korea may be discussed with allies & North – Mattis

US Defense Secretary James Mattis and South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo reaffirmed in phone talks on Saturday their commitment to a diplomatic solution ensuring the complete denuclearization of North Korea, the Pentagon said.

In his conversation with Mattis, Song reviewed the Panmunjom Declaration and the efforts to improve North-South relations while achieving the common goal of denuclearization, White said.

White said Mattis also reaffirmed the "ironclad US commitment" to defend its ally South Korea using "the full spectrum of USA capabilities".

On Friday South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un met at the Panmunjom "peace village" in the Demilitarized Zone and committed themselves to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and pledged to bring a formal end to the Korean War.

1950 was the year the Korean War started, a war that was de facto ended in 1953 with an armistice but is still technically ongoing as a peace treaty was never signed.

In a press release Sunday, according to the Korean Defense Ministry, Mattis said the inter-Korean summit marked an important step toward the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, and laid a firm groundwork for a successful U.S-North Korean summit.

He added that the U.S. "will build, through confidence-building measures, a degree of trust if it's going to go forward", referring to the dialogue with North Korea on the denuclearisation issue, reports Xinhua news agency. Bilateral relations are often strained over issues such as defense burden sharing, the USA army's harassment of South Korean civilians and Seoul's initiative to take back the war-time command control from Washington, among others.

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