ROK-US Defense Ministerial Meeting
U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis and Republic of Korea (ROK) Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo met at Pacific Command in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Jan. 26, 2018. The secretary and the minister reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-ROK alliance, and its mission to defend the ROK and to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
Secretary Mattis and Minister Song endorsed the continued strengthening of combined U.S.-ROK capabilities to deter and defend against the North Korean threat. They also expressed their commitment to upholding a strong, effective and credible readiness posture to underpin the ongoing diplomatic efforts toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The two sides discussed the recent Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula in Vancouver as an example of such diplomatic efforts.
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.
Secretary Mattis and Minister Song welcomed the resumed inter-Korean dialogue, which has resulted in North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Both sides agreed to closely cooperate to assure a safe and peaceful Winter Olympics. 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. Moreover, they emphasized that any efforts to drive a wedge in the U.S.-ROK alliance would fail. They also committed to close, continued collaboration aimed at making the DPRK change its behavior and come to the negotiating table to discuss denuclearization.
Minister Song shared the progress made on ROK defense reform to address changes in the security environment, as well as the ROK public demand for reform. Both Minister Song and Secretary Mattis shared their expectation that ROK’s defense reform will contribute to enhancement of comprehensive alliance capabilities and will support alliance agreements to prepare for the transition of operational control (OPCON) of ROK forces. Secretary Mattis and Minister Song recognized that deep shared understanding and close bonds between the two defense leaders are essential for development of the alliance, and agreed to seek as many opportunities of direct communication as conditions allow.