By Seima Oki / Yomiuri Shimbun CorrespondentWASHINGTON — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke with his South Korean counterpart Song Young Moo over the phone and confirmed that the agenda for high-level talks between South Korea and North Korea scheduled for Tuesday will be only about the issue of Pyongyang’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Mattis told reporters at the Defense Department that he understands North Korea’s nuclear and missile development will not be discussed in the talks.
“It would be if the other nations that are involved were in the room, but in fact they’re not. This is simply South and North Korea. And so the right countries aren’t in the room to go further,” Mattis said, when asked if the talks are a missed opportunity to discuss security issues.
Mattis also said: “There is not a one degree of difference on where we stand vis-a-vis the long-term defense of ROK, our ally, about the denuclearization,” emphasizing unity between the two nations.
Meanwhile on the same day, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson showed a prudent view over the possibility that the planned talks with Seoul and Pyongyang would lead to talks between the United States and North Korea.
“Well, I think it’s too early to tell. We need to wait and see what the outcome of their talks are ... Their intent is to talk about the Olympics ... So, I think it’s a little early to draw any conclusions at this point,” the secretary of state said during a CNN interview.
With regard to the possibility for talks with North Korea, Tillerson reiterated the U.S. position that the United States will never enter into dialogue with North Korea unless Pyongyang accepts its denuclearization.