US JCS Chief Thanks Japan for Support Against N. Korea's Guam Threats

Tillerson Mattis Military Option Still in Play for N. Korea

Tillerson Mattis Military Option Still in Play for N. Korea

After a day of high-level meetings, USA and Japanese officials said they had agreed to boost defenses against North Korea's growing military threat.

"We will absolutely help and what's most important for ballistic missile defense is that we integrate our capabilities", Dunford said.

They pledged closer ties to cope with myriad issues, from North Korea to Chinese assertiveness in the East and South China seas.

Tillerson has not ruled out the possibility of holding talks with Pyongyang.

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"I think we made it clear to North Korea and anyone else in the region that an attack on one is an attack on both of us", Dunford told Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of staff of Japan's Self-Defence Forces. "So that is our effort, to cause them to want to engage in talks, but engage in talks with an understanding that these talks will lead to a different conclusion than talks of the past", he said. US President Donald Trump praised North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for making a "very wise and well-reasoned" decision to back down from a plan to mount a missile strike near the US Pacific island territory of Guam, two days after Kim reportedly said he would take "a little more" time before giving any order.

"Any diplomatic effort in any situation where you have this level of threat that we're confronted with...has to be backed by a strong military effect if North Korea chooses wrongly", Tillerson said.

Tillerson said the United States will continue to work diplomatically for negotiations that end with North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons. Beijing has banned most imports from North Korea to comply with United Nations sanctions.

Trump warned North Korea last week it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States, prompting North Korea to say it was considering plans to fire missiles towards Guam.

US joint military drills with South Korea to go ahead
That said, Pyongyang's recent intercontinental missile launches have prompted him to take a harder stance on the isolated regime. Most notably, Pyongyang said it might consider an attack on the area near the USA territory of Guam in the Western Pacific.

Dr Nishihara said Japan must first "have a much stronger retaliatory capability, in case of the opponent's strong retaliation". The two secretaries printed a column in the Wall Street Journal announcing their willingness to negotiate with North Korea and expressing their lack of interest in bringing about regime change in North Korea or accelerating the unification of the Korean Peninsula.

During his visit to Seoul on August 14, Dunford met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and said that, though the Pentagon was prepared for a military option, their aim was to use diplomatic and economic pressure to achieve the de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Japan, which hosts about 50,000 US forces members, has sought support for worldwide efforts to pressure North Korea.

"(Japan and the U.S.) also confirmed their shared commitment to enhance and accelerate cooperation in such areas as bilateral planning, air and missile defense, non-combatant evacuation operations, defense equipment and technology cooperation, intelligence cooperation and information security", a press release from the State Department issued on Thursday reads.

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