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29 January 2018, 09:05 | Floyd Cook
Abe, Moon to hold summit on Feb.9
USA military exercises with South Korea will be held after the Olympics as planned despite a demand for a complete suspension from the North, the Pentagon said.
The US, South Korea and a number of other allies have held a variety of military exercises on and around the Korean Peninsula over the course of 2017, including "decapitation strike" drills meant to practice taking out North Korea's leadership.
Their visit followed last week's trip to the South by another group of North Koreans led by Pyongyang celebrity Hyon Song Wol, the leader of the famous Moranbong girl band who also heads an art troupe that will perform during the Games.
Mattis said Olympic talks between North and South Korea should not distract from the goal of denuclearization of the North, adding that a campaign of diplomatic pressure will continue unabated.
"We could fight tonight, shoulder to shoulder with the Koreans - or South Koreans, if they're attacked", Mattis added.
While speculation had built that Abe might skip the February 9 ceremony in Pyeongchang, he said Wednesday he wants to meet South Korean President Moon Jae In and "tell him of the need for Japan, South Korea and the United States to work together and maintain the maximum level of pressure to deal with the threat from North Korea".
The agreement to form the unified team marked the first official talks between North and South Korea in two years.
Tensions between North Korea and the USA have spiked following Pyongyang's sixth and largest nuclear test in September. (The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism/Yonhap via Reuters) South Korean women's hockey team players, right, talk with North Korean women's ice hockey team players, left, at the South Korea's national training center in Jincheon on January 25.
The United States banned the transfer of refined oil products to and from North Korea in August of past year.
China has always been the North's chief economic partner and political ally but North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's refusal to rein in his regime's provocative actions has left Beijing officials increasingly frustrated.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that the notion of using military force to make North Korea stop its nuclear program was "unacceptable".
The president's remarks have raised concerns in the region that the USA and North Korea are hurtling toward a confrontation.
"When it comes to joint events, the South is in consultation with the USA and the global community in a bid not to spark a row over a possible violation of sanctions", Baik said.
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