US goal 'is not war' with North Korea: Mattis

SEOUL:  Washington's goal "is not war" as it seeks to ease high military tension with Pyongyang, United States Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis said yesterday, standing at the heavily-fortified border between the two Koreas.

Tension has flared on the Korean peninsula as US President Donald Trump and North Korea's ruler Kim Jong Un have traded threats of war and personal insults that sparked global alarm.

But Mr Mattis, who visited the Demilitarised Zone during a trip to South Korea, said the US is committed to a "diplomatic solution".

"As the US Secretary of State (Rex) Tillerson made clear, our goal is not war but rather the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," he said in the truce village of Panmunjom.

He also stressed that he and his South Korean counterpart Song Young Moo had "made clear our mutual commitment to a diplomatic solution to address North Korea's reckless, outlaw behaviour".

Mr Mattis is set to hold annual defence talks with Mr Song today during the two-day trip, which comes ahead of a planned trip by Mr Trump to the South - a key US ally - next month.

Mr Trump is set to visit Seoul from Nov 7 to 8, with all eyes on his message to North Korea and Mr Kim.

North Korea carried out its sixth nuclear test last month and has launched several missiles in recent months potentially capable of reaching the mainland of the US, its "imperialist enemy". - AFP

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