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United States to deploy missile system to S Korea, pledges to defend Japan

United States to deploy missile system to S Korea, pledges to defend Japan

Defense secretary James Mattis warned North Korea Thursday of an "effective and overwhelming" response if it chooses to launch a nuclear attack, affirming to South Korea and later Japan that US security commitments have not changed despite the new Donald Trump administration.

An armored helicopter prepare to land on the ground during the annual joint military exercise Foal Eagle between South Korea and the United States in Pocheon, northeast of Seoul, March 25, 2015. It would not be wise to choose sides as both countries are crucial in responding to North Korea's nuclear threats.

The US defence secretary warned North Korea on Friday of an "effective and overwhelming" response if Pyongyang chose to use nuclear weapons.

Hwang said there is a need to change North Korea's "strategic calculus" through global sanctions and pressure.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis has started his first trip overseas by reassuring a key Asian ally of the United States' continued support.

South Korea and Japan are looking to Mattis for guarantees that the longstanding alliances between the countries will stand.

Seoul and Washington agreed to deploy the THAAD system in South Korea's Seongju County amid growing tensions in the region spurred by North Korea's ballistic and nuclear tests.

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"‎During the meetings, ‎the secretary emphasized the priority that President Trump places on the Asia-Pacific, and on strengthening the U.S. -ROK alliance".

Mattis warned that the US will not tolerate North Korean aggression while meeting with Defense Minister Han Min Koo, his South Korean counterpart.

During the series of meetings, Mattis, a retired Marine general, is expected to agree with Japanese officials on the importance of maintaining a strong alliance amid North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs as well as China's maritime assertiveness, with Japan keen to emphasize that USA engagement is vital to ensuring stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

North Korea has hinted that it is ready to test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental USA, an early challenge for the Trump administration. Last year, Chinese ambassador to South Korea had said S Korea-China relationship will end in "an instant" if USA deploys THAAD.

Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. security treaty obliges Japan and the United States to jointly defend a Japan-administered area should it be attacked by a third country. This frees Defense Secretary Mattis to focus on ensuring readiness and establishing the high levels of security coordination on how to deal with North Korea.

Beijing fiercely opposes the deployment, charging that the missile shield system is a security threat to China and the region.

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