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Peace with North Korea a 'possibility': top US general
By Yanan WANG
Beijing (AFP) Aug 17, 2017

US insists military ready to counter North Korea
Washington (AFP) Aug 17, 2017 - Senior US officials insisted they are ready to respond to any North Korean attack Thursday, after a White House aide dismissed talk of a "military option."

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are trying to pressure North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program and come to the table.

While they stress they want to convince Kim Jong-Un's regime through diplomatic means of the need to disarm, they have not dropped the threat of military action.

But their stance was partly undermined on Wednesday when President Donald Trump's strategy chief, Steve Bannon, told a news magazine: "There's no military solution."

A day later, Mattis and Tillerson faced questions about Bannon's remarks as they appeared with their Japanese counterparts at a State Department press conference.

"I don't want to comment on what Mr Bannon's remarks were in that particular interview," Tillerson said.

"I think we have been quite clear as to what the policy and the posture towards North Korea is," he said. "Our approach has been endorsed by the president."

Tillerson warned again that North Korea faced a "bleak future" if it does not agree to negotiate disarmament, and Mattis insisted that US regional allies are ready.

"In close collaboration with our allies, there are strong military consequences if the DPRK initiates hostilities," the Pentagon chief told reporters.

Top American general says attack on Japan same as on US
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 18, 2017 - The United States' most senior military officer on Friday said North Korea understands that an any attack on Japan is equal to one on the US itself -- and vice versa.

General Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held talks with his Japanese counterpart at the defence ministry in Tokyo, wrapping up a regional tour during heightened tensions with North Korea.

Tokyo remains on alert against potential military provocations by Pyongyang after North Korea threatened to fire missiles towards the Pacific island of Guam, US territory, which would have flown over Japan.

"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.

"And that's very, very important for deterrence," added Dunford, who visited South Korea and China before arriving in Japan.

Dunford added that the US reaffirmed its "ironclad commitment" to the security of Japan on Thursday when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held talks with their Japanese counterparts in Washington.

Japan frequently demands -- and receives -- US reassurances over its commitment to defend its ally.

The US and Japan, adversaries in World War II, have forged a decades-long defence alliance and the US stations tens of thousands of troops in the country.

Washington has long encouraged Japan to take on more defence responsibility even though the country is militarily constrained by a US-written constitution imposed after the end of World War II.

In 2015 nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed contentious security bills through parliament that expand what Japan can do to help its ally, such as coming to the aid of US troops under attack.

Dunford is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later in the day.

During his visit to China, Dunford said peace with North Korea is a "possibility", but warned the US has "credible, viable military options" for dealing with the errant regime.

Peace with North Korea is a "possibility", America's most senior uniformed officer said Thursday, but warned the US has "credible, viable military options" for dealing with the errant regime.

General Joe Dunford, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, also told reporters during his visit to Beijing that the US has no plans to "dial back" military exercises with South Korea, which have angered both China and North Korea.

Dunford made the remarks on the last day of a trip to China that included a visit on Wednesday to a northern military zone near China's border with North Korea.

"What's unimaginable to me is not a military option," Dunford told reporters before a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"What is unimaginable is allowing (North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un) to develop ballistic missiles with a nuclear warhead that can threaten the United States and continue to threaten the region."

In Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-In vowed Thursday that "there will be no war" on the peninsula.

Dunford, who was in South Korea earlier this week and will land in Japan later Thursday to discuss tensions around North Korea's growing weapons programme, acknowledged that a military solution would be "horrific".

But he said it would be employed only if diplomatic and economic pressures fail to create the conditions for political dialogue.

"I do believe right now that there's a long way to go, but we are on a path where there is a possibility -- and I hope a probability that we can resolve this peacefully," Dunford said.

On Tuesday, China, which has been accused by the US of not doing enough to rein in Kim's authoritarian regime, started implementing a ban on North Korean imports of iron, iron ore and seafood as part of a far-reaching UN Security Council resolution passed earlier this month.

China, the North's biggest ally, accounts for 90 percent of its trade.

"The reports I've heard even since I've been to Beijing have been positive in terms of Chinese commitment to enforce those sanctions," Dunford said, though he urged China on Tuesday to increase pressure on Pyongyang.

The general went against White House aide Steve Bannon's statement in an interview published Wednesday in which he said "there's no military solution (to North Korea's nuclear threats)".

Dunford said President Donald Trump "has told us to develop credible, viable military options, and that's exactly what we're doing".

"If the president comes to us with a decision to use military force, we will provide him with options."

- 'Sensitive issues' -

The US and North Korea have been engaged in heated verbal sparring since Trump warned Pyongyang that it faced "fire and fury" if it continued to threaten the US and other countries with its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

North Korea responded that it was ready to aim a missile at the American territory Guam, but it has since suspended the operation.

Both the US and Chinese sides acknowledged during Dunford's visit that they hold differing views on certain "sensitive issues."

In a statement, Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, criticised "wrongful actions" undertaken by the US that "have had a great negative impact on military and bilateral relations between the two countries".

Fan cited the US deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea, the activities of US warships in the South China Sea, and Taiwan, which receives US military aid and which Beijing considers a rebel island.

But Xi during his meeting with Dunford praised the general for a visit demonstrating that "military-to-military relations have made a substantial step forward."

On Wednesday, the two sides signed an agreement to establish regular exchanges between the offices of top US and Chinese military officials.

The first joint staff dialogue will be held in Washington this November.

US says open to talk if North Korea ready to disarm
Washington (AFP) Aug 15, 2017
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday, after North Korea's Kim Jong-Un postponed a threat to fire missiles towards the US territory of Guam, that Washington remains ready for talks. But the top US diplomat said it would be up to Kim when such negotiations would begin, having previously insisted Pyongyang must demonstrate that it accepts it will have to give up its nuclear program. ... read more

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