North Korea 'poses a threat to us all': Mattis

Mattis also said the United States administration was pleased to see China working with them on ways to counter North Korea's continued weapons development, though he had harsh words for China regarding their activities in the South China Sea.

At their meeting, Inada and Mattis agreed that the recent series of ballistic missile launches by North Korea are impermissible, terming them as clear provocations against regional peace and stability.

"As a Pacific nation, we have enduring interests and commitments in the Asia-Pacific region", Mattis said aboard his aircraft, referring in part to USA defense treaties with Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines.

In defiance of global criticism, North Korea has already fired ballistic missiles nine times this year.

Although President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement has "heavy consequences", Goulard said that there was "no reason to have doubts" over its regional leadership role.

"Once we have exhausted all possible alternatives, the Americans will do the right thing", Mattis said. "We will be there with you".

"The Trump administration is encouraged by China's renewed commitment to work with the worldwide community toward denuclearisation", the defense secretary added, according to Agence France Presse.

Mattis said the United States welcomed China's economic development, but he anticipated "friction" between the two countries.

"Sanctions are not a goal in itself but as long as DPRK doesn't stop its behavior, we'll have no other choice than reinforcing the pressure on the regime", Permanent Representative of France to the UN Francois Delattre told reporters Friday.

In his speech, Mattis acknowledged the hard diplomacy involved in getting China to act against North Korea, a longtime trade partner that shares a border.

"We are still trying to figure out his (Trump's) policy in our region", said Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. "The last-ditch gambling of the Trump administration for a nuclear war will only bring earlier the day when the USA mainland will turn into ashes".

"On May 30, the U.S. imperialists conducted a test simulating the interception of an intercontinental ballistic missile by our republic [the DPRK] at the Vandenberg base in California, which is a unsafe military provocation", the statement said, Sputnik reported.

At a session yesterday, a member of the Chinese delegation stressed China's commitment to resolving tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Mattis was also clear on territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Japan has reportedly been pushing all its cities and towns to conduct the evacuation drills to minimise loss of life in the event of an attack by North Korea.

"There's going to be fresh approaches taken" to various issues by Trump, Mattis said, while making it clear that he personally believes the USA needs to avoid isolationist tendencies.

"There is a strong worldwide consensus that the current situation can not continue".

Speaking at a defense summit in Singapore on Saturday, Mattis tried to quell audience concerns over USA leadership and Friday's decision by Trump to leave the Paris climate change accord.

  • Zachary Reyes