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U.S. defense secretary to meet in Hawaii with S. Korean counterpart


    Secretary of Defense James Mattis, shown here speaking in Washington on Friday, will be in Hawaii to meet with the South Korean defense minister.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis will meet Friday in Hawaii with his South Korean counterpart, Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo, to discuss issues on the Korean Peninsula.

Mattis talked about the meeting today with reporters en route to Vietnam and after visiting Indonesia.

The logistics of meeting in Hawaii arose “just because we have an opportunity out here to link up in the field. (It) makes it easier for both of us on the travel side,” Mattis said.

The meeting will take place at U.S. Pacific Command headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith and will include “introductory statements” open to the media by Mattis and Song, the Hawaii command said.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported the United States and South Korea want to coordinate actions after North Korea engaged with Seoul for the firest time in more than two years and agreed to participate in the South Korean Olympic winter games starting next month.

The Pentagon said Mattis was traveling to Indonesia and Vietnam and would conclude the trip with a visit to Hawaii and meeting with Adm. Harry Harris, the head of Pacific Command.

Mattis met Tuesday with Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu in Jakarta and discussed the security situation in the region, including North Korea and the South China Sea, the Defense Department said.

En route to Vietnam, Mattis was asked what makes it intolerable for North Korea to have nuclear weapons.

“The unity of the United Nations on this issue shows that this is a broadly-based assessment of (North Korea),” Mattis said, adding the North is a country the international community doesn’t want to possess a nuclear capability.

“It is the public and stated policy of the United States, of (the) Republic of Korea, of Chinese, of (the) Russian Federation, and I can go on,” Mattis said, “that the Korean Peninsula, due to its unique circumstance, the fact that there’s been no peace treaty, just an armistice, this is not the place where the international community can tolerate nuclear weapons.”

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