The Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said on Monday that the situation on the Korean peninsula should be resolved “without a war,” the South Korean presidential office said in a statement.
General Joseph Dunford and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a close to 50-minute meeting from 1630 Seoul time, Blue House spokesperson Park Soo-hyun told media.
“The U.S. will be in close consultation with South Korea over the responses and measures at the level of the alliance,” Dunford was quoted as having said.
“Everyone expects the current situation to be resolved without a war.”
Gen. Dunford reiterated that the military option was Washington’s last resort in dealing with the North Korean issue.
“The U.S. military has a primary goal in supporting the U.S. government’s efforts to impose diplomatic and economic pressures for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Dunford reportedly said.
“The military option is prepared in case these efforts fail.”
Dunford comments came after U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday continued a week of aggressive rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington.
“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” Trump said on Twitter.
The Blue House said that Dunford had also emphasized that the U.S. commitment to defend the Republic of Korea (ROK) “remained unchanged,” and that the security situation on the Korean peninsula was “severe.”
“[The President] emphasized that the current security situation on the Korean peninsula was more serious than ever and that there was a real and urgent threat due to the advancement of North Korean nuclear and missile capabilities,” according to Park.
Moon also “strongly condemned” the North’s test-launches of two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in July for “disturbing security order on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, as well as the world.”
“President Moon strongly urged the North to stop provocations and immediately come to a place for a dialogue to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula,” Park added.
Dunford held talks with South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Yong-moo and Chairman of the South Korean JCS Lee Sun-jin earlier in the day, having arrived in the South on Sunday for a two-day visit in his first trip to South Korea.
He will also visit China and Japan, during which the North will be “big topic of discussion,” according to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), which said on Sunday the trip to Asia was in line with the Trump administration’s efforts to deter Pyongyang.
“No one is more reluctant to go to war than those of us who represent the men and women who actually have to pay that sacrifice,” Dunford said on Sunday. “[We’re] also mindful of the civilian sacrifice that could occur in a war.”
He said, however, that support for diplomacy and sanctions did not mean the U.S. was without a military option.
“As a military leader I have to make sure that the President does have viable military options in the event that the diplomatic and economic pressurization campaign fails,” Dunford said.
“But even as we develop those options, we are mindful of the consequences of those options, and that gives us a greater sense of urgency to make sure we are doing everything we absolutely can to support Secretary Tillerson’s path.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
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