South Korean Defense Minister shakes hands with US Defense Secretary James Mattis during their summit at the US Pacific Command in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 27.
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that he is bolstering military options so that negotiators will have leverage in talks with North Korea over its nuclear program, talks that have yet to be scheduled but continue to be the goal of U.S. and South Korean officials.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo enter Pacific Command headquarters in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018.
A South Korean government official said Sunday that Seoul is now considering the move as "the North's oil supplies aren't in good condition" but there has been criticism "this would go against the flow of global sanctions on Pyongyang". "Our response to this threat remains diplomacy led, backed up with military options available to ensure that our diplomats are understood to be speaking from a position of strength". The talks are drawing particular intention for including discussions on the future situation after the Pyeongchang Olympics, which have ushered in inter-Korean dialogue and reduced tensions in the new year.
"The Kim regime is a threat to the entire world".
The United States announced new sanctions on Wednesday aimed at stopping North Korea's nuclear weapons development and urged China and Russian Federation to expel North Koreans raising funds for the programs.
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He noted three unanimous United Nations Security Council Resolutions on North Korea. "And at the same time, [they remain] steadfast that the global economic pressure campaign can denuclearize the Korean Peninsula".
The agreement to form the unified team marked the first official talks between North and South Korea in two years.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who will represent the United States at the Olympics, said on Tuesday he would seek to counter what he described as an effort by North Korea to "hijack" the Games with a propaganda campaign.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has refused to give up development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States in spite of increasingly severe U.N. sanctions, raising fears of a new war on the Korean peninsula. "I want to praise your nation's steadfast action, upholding the United Nations sanctions at sea", he told Song. "The global pressure campaign must continue".
The official said that South Korea needs to solve the electricity issue, but tough sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the United States are making it hard for Seoul to send refined oil to the North.
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.