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Published: Sat, June 30, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Mattis vows ‘ironclad’ commitment to South Korean security

Mattis vows ‘ironclad’ commitment to South Korean security

China is committed to peace and will never pursue expansionism but will not give up an "inch" of territory, President Xi Jinping told visiting U.S. defence secretary James Mattis at a meeting in Beijing on Wednesday.

"The secretary raised directly President Xi's previous comment to Obama about not militarizing, and again that was in the context of 'You're behaving in ways that cause concerns not only to us but to regional partners".

Schriver said China reaffirmed its support for the U.S. effort to push North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, and the UN Security Council resolution placing heavy sanctions on North Korea.

The Pentagon last month disinvited China from participating in an annual multinational military drill, known as RimPac, which officially kicks off this week, blaming it on Beijing's escalating militarization in the South China Sea by deploying new missile systems on its man-made islands in the contested waters.

In his meeting with Xi, Mattis said that Washington greatly values the relations of the two nations and their military, hoping the two sides will enhance strategic communication and cooperation to avoid conflict and confrontation.

On Thursday, Mr Mattis travelled on to South Korea and met the country's defence minister Song Young-moo.

I want to bring our soldiers back home... It is notable that DoD is allowing Xi to capture all the headlines by failing to spotlight anything Mattis said to him.

The two sides held firm to their stances on a hot-button issue that has added to broader tensions between the rival superpowers, but USA officials said it did not undermine Mattis' effort to rescue the fraying relationship between the two militaries.

Xi met Mattis - the first Pentagon chief to visit Beijing since 2014 - at the Great Hall of the People yesterday (Jun 27).

The really interesting aspect of the secretary's visit is that his own office has not told us much about what he said to Xi. In March, the USA passed the Taiwan Travel Act that permits and "encourages" official visits between the US and Taiwan.

"Mattis has heard the most authoritative voice from China on these issues and questions, and this might indicate that China's legitimate activities in regions like the SCS and the Taiwan Straits won't be affected by military actions from the US", Xu Guangyu, a retired PLA major general and senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association told the daily.

With Trump also saying in his post-summit remarks that he wanted to withdraw USA troops stationed in South Korea "at some point", concerns have been mounting among Washington's allies in Asia over whether the United States is envisioning a strategic retreat from the region.

Seoul and Washington had agreed to the conditions-based transfer of wartime operational control of South Korean troops from Washington to Seoul when South Korea's military is capable of leading the combined defense on the peninsula.

He added that Defence Minister Wei has accepted an invitation from Mattis to visit the United States this year.

Still, the United States and China have broad strategic common interests, such as ensuring peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.

"And this includes maintaining the current USA force levels on the Korean peninsula", he continued.

Trump's decision to cancel the war games came as a surprise to military leaders.

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