WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 — The defense chiefs of South Korea and the United States have reaffirmed that North Korea will not succeed in driving a wedge in the bilateral alliance, the Pentagon said Saturday.
During a meeting in Hawaii Friday, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis addressed concerns that North Korea could be seeking to weaken the alliance through its recent talks with the South.
The two sides “welcomed the resumed inter-Korean dialogue, which has resulted in North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics,” the Pentagon said in a release.
“Both sides reaffirmed their mutual objective of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and agreed to closely cooperate with the international community to ensure that the inter-Korea dialogue, resumed on the occasion of the upcoming Olympic games, supports this objective,” it said. “Moreover, they emphasized that any efforts to drive a wedge in the U.S.-ROK alliance would fail.”
ROK is the acronym for South Korea’s official name, the Republic of Korea.
The Pentagon said the two sides also agreed to closely cooperate to ensure a safe and peaceful Olympics, and committed to maintaining a strong defense posture to back up diplomatic efforts to denuclearize the North.
“Secretary Mattis reaffirmed the United States’ ironclad commitment to the ROK, including its strong extended deterrence commitment, and stressed that any North Korean attack on the United States, its territories or its allies will be met with an effective and overwhelming response,” it said. “They also committed to close, continued collaboration aimed at making the DPRK change its behavior and come to the negotiating table to discuss denuclearization.”
DPRK refers to the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Song discussed South Korea’s defense reforms, and both sides voiced their expectation those will help enhance alliance capabilities as well as preparations for the transfer of wartime operational control of South Korean troops from Washington to Seoul.