Mattis wants to keep pressure on N. Korea

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (L) greets South Korean counterpart Song Young-Moo (R) at the top of their meeting on Saturday in Honolulu, Hawaii. (AFP)
Updated 27 January 2018

Mattis wants to keep pressure on N. Korea

HONOLULU: The United States and South Korea are going to keep tightening the screws on Pyongyang so that the hermit state gives up its nuclear program, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said Friday.
“As two peace-loving nations, the Republic of Korea and America welcome the Olympic Games talks between the ROK and DPRK while at the same time remaining steadfast with the international economic pressure campaign to denuclearize the Korean peninsula,” Mattis said in Honolulu.
The defense secretary was speaking at the start of a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Song Young-Moo at US Pacific Command, or PACOM, headquarters.
“Diplomacy should repose reason on Kim’s reckless rhetoric and dangerous provocations,” Mattis said, warning that the Winter Olympics talks and the respite in inter-Korean ties that accompany them do not solve overarching problems.
“The Kim regime is a threat to the entire world... 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.”
Pyongyang has agreed to send athletes and support delegations to the South for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next month and form a unified women’s ice hockey team with the South.
The move followed months of entreaties from Seoul to take part in a “peace Olympics,” prompting a rare and rapid improvement in the atmosphere on the peninsula.
But the North is also preparing a massive military parade in Pyongyang on February 8, a day before the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony.
The North has long said it is open to talks without preconditions, but the US says it must first take concrete steps toward denuclearization, although the administration of President Donald Trump has at times sent mixed and conflicting messages on the issue.


Japan weighing visit by Iran’s President Rouhani

Updated 09 December 2019

Japan weighing visit by Iran’s President Rouhani

  • Japan has been trying to forge a possible mediator role as tensions rise between its ally US and Iran
  • If the trip is confirmed, Rouhani would become the first Iranian president to visit Japan since 2000

TOKYO: Japan is weighing inviting Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani for a state visit, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday, as local media reported the trip was likely to happen this month.
Japan has been trying to forge a possible mediator role as tensions rise between its ally Washington and Tehran.
Local media has reported in recent days that Rouhani is likely to visit Tokyo around December 20, with some reports saying Washington has green-lighted the trip.
“A visit by President Rouhani to Japan is now under consideration,” Abe said at a press conference marking the end of the year’s parliamentary session.
“Japan, which has an alliance with the US and at the same time has maintained favorable relations with Iran for a long time, must forge its own path,” he said.
“I want to make diplomatic efforts as much as possible to help ease tensions and stabilize the situation in the region by continuing dialogue patiently,” he added.
If the trip is confirmed, Rouhani would become the first Iranian president to visit Japan since 2000.
Japan and Iran have maintained a good relationship despite recent regional turmoil, with resource-poor Japan heavily reliant on imports of oil from the Middle East.
Abe traveled to Iran in June and met Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as well as Rouhani. He met Rouhani again in New York during this year’s UN General Assembly.
The proposed visit comes as tensions remain high between Tehran and Washington, despite a prisoner swap last week.
On Sunday, Rouhani announced a “budget of resistance” against US sanctions targeting the country’s vital oil sector.
US President Donald Trump began imposing punitive measures in May 2018, after unilaterally withdrawing from an accord that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for limits on its nuclear program.