WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2018 — Defense Secretary James N. Mattis has highlighted the efforts aimed at strengthening diplomatic avenues for a secure, prosperous and denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
Mattis spoke to reporters yesterday while en route to Vancouver, British Columbia, for the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula.
“The situation we face I would call it sobering,” Mattis said. “But this meeting is designed to still make progress diplomatically, such as you’ve seen with three unanimous Security Council resolutions over these last months.”
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is co-hosting the foreign ministers’ meeting today and tomorrow with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Mattis said his role in the conference is to provide the military situation, then leave the meeting in the hands of Tillerson and the foreign ministers.
Effort firmly in diplomatic realm
“I just want to emphasize this, because this shows that this effort right now is firmly in the diplomatic realm,” he said. “That is where we are working it.”
Mattis did note that military options do exist if North Korea were to launch an attack. However, he reiterated the goal of strengthening diplomatic efforts.
Diplomatic initiatives are “starting to go in the right direction,” he said, noting developments such as North Korea saying it would send athletes and musicians to South Korea next month during the Winter Olympics.
Mattis traveled on today to visit the 366th Fighter Wing, known as the “Gunfighters,” located at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. He said he wanted to discuss readiness with the airmen there.
“They are deployable fighter squadrons under that wing, and they are the ones who are training alongside the Singaporean air force there over the Snake River in Denver,” he pointed out.
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)
NEW: Joe Biden Bashes Incoming Trump Administration In Leaked 2016 Call to President of Ukraine
Joe Biden speaks in critical and partisan terms of the incoming Trump administration in a new leaked call to the President of Ukraine unveiled Wednesday.
In the call, conducted in November 2016 a week after then-candidate Trump’s election victory, Biden bashes the incoming administration to the foreign leader, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Biden assails the Trump transition team as incompetent, turning down the idea of visiting the country before the January transition before Trump is “fully briefed” on matters related to Ukraine.
In a second call, Biden asks for Poroshenko to describe his conversations with incoming President Trump, going to to speak of Trump in more dismissive terms. He describes Trump as a “dog who caught the car, and who doesn’t know what to do.” Not quite a “dog-faced pony soldier,” but definitely not an appropriate way for an outgoing vice president to describe an incoming president to a foreign leader.
A Ukrainian comedian originally released the calls, suggesting questionable operational security within the conversations of Joe Biden and Poroshenko. Biden has a lengthy history of ethical questions regarding his relationship with Ukraine, including looking the other way as his son Hunter secured an extremely lucrative position at a Ukrainian oil company without any experience whatsoever in the energy industry.
Biden himself would later go on to demand the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating corruption allegations against the younger Biden, a clear conflict of interest Biden merely dismissed when he spoke openly of securing the prosecutor’s firing at a Council on Foreign Relations public event.
This is a totally inappropriate way for a Vice President to speak to a foreign leader, and the public should be concerned about how Biden plans to conduct diplomacy should he be elected President.
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