North Korea 'Recklessly Tried to Provoke,' Mattis Says

WASHINGTON --

North Korea's most recent unsuccessful missile launch is an attempt to "provoke" and underscores why the United States is working with the Chinese government to keep the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said today.

Vice President Mike Pence is briefed by Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command and United Nations Command, at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, April 17, 2017. White House photo by D. Myles Cullen
Vice President Mike Pence is briefed by Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command and United Nations Command, at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, April 17, 2017. White House photo by D. Myles Cullen
Vice President Mike Pence is briefed by Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command and United Nations Command, at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, April 17, 2017. White House photo by D. Myles Cullen Vice President
Vice President Mike Pence is briefed by Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command and United Nations Command, at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, April 17, 2017. White House photo by D. Myles Cullen

"You're aware that the leader in North Korea, again, recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile," Mattis told reporters on his plane en route to Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. and China are working closely to try to "get this under control and aim for the denuclearized Korean Peninsula," Mattis said. The secretary noted the recent meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

The United States, China, South Korea and Japan all share the same interest in having a denuclearized peninsula, the secretary noted.

Vice President Mike Pence met yesterday with U.S. and Korean troops at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Later in Seoul, he said, "North Korea would do well not to test [Trump's] resolve -- or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region."

He said the United States and its allies have stood together since 1992 for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. All options are on the table, he said.

"Over the past 18 months, North Korea has conducted two unlawful nuclear tests and an unprecedented number of ballistic missile tests," Pence said in Seoul, the South Korean capital.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)


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