Mattis suggests he and Han keep 24-hour contactU.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis proposed that he and South Korean National Defense Minister Han Min-koo “communicate 24 hours a day and 365 days a year,” according to a local military source on Sunday.
Mattis made the comment last Friday during the bilateral ministerial meeting with Han, the first of its kind since the Pentagon chief assumed office late last month, the source said on the condition of anonymity.
Han is said to have agreed, suggesting he and Mattis should have “candid and transparent” discussions in the future.
The source also noted that Mattis said he had already told his working-level junior ranks at the Pentagon to “intimately communicate” with the South Korean military.
The latest news appears to add another effort by Mattis to highlight the “ironclad” U.S.-South Korea alliance in the face of growing North Korean provocations.
Mattis landed on Thursday in South Korea, his first overseas destination, and left the following day for Japan, sending a clear message that the Donald Trump administration was focusing quickly on the North Korea situation.
His visit came amid heightened tension in Northeast Asia and the United States after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared in a New Year’s speech on Jan. 1 that the regime was in its “final stage” of test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the first of its kind.
Mattis said last week the United States will defeat any attack against it or its allies and will meet any use of nuclear weapons with an “effective and overwhelming response,” according to a statement carried by the U.S. Department of Defense.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]