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Mattis Stresses Diplomacy in Response to Postponement of U.S.-South Korean Military Exercises

Jan. 5, 2018 (EIRNS)—U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, told reporters at the Pentagon, yesterday, that the postponement of the annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, agreed to by the presidents of the U.S. and South Korea, is a matter of logistics, but he also stressed the diplomatic side of things.

"Those talks clearly are the result of the amount of international pressure and they are a way, I think, for North Korea to start talking while keeping it contained to a benign issue,"

he said. Mattis couldn’t say whether or not Kim Jong-un’s New years Day offer was real or not, but

"It shows again that the democracies and the nations that are trying to keep this from going to war and stopping the provocations of nuclear weapon development, of ballistic missile launches and that sort of thing are united and trying to keep this thing in a solution—a diplomatic solution vein."

In other words, as President Trump tweeted, yesterday, "talks are a good thing!"

On the logistics aspect, Mattis called it a "practical matter" of deconfliction. That is, elements of the South Korean military and police will be providing logistical and security support to the games and it would just be easier if they didn’t have to worry about the exercises, too. "And so, to de-conflict this when they brought it up to us, we have at times changed the timelines on these for any number of reasons," he said. "So, to us this is the normal give and take that we have. Remember, we’re doing this at the host country’s invitation to this exercise."

As for when the rescheduled exercises take place, Mattis wouldn’t say except for that they would begin sometime after the Paralympics end on March 18. Yonhap, citing an "informed source," reports that the Key Resolve exercise will run from April 23-May 3, and that troop deployments will begin on April 18. The source claimed that the two sides reached a tentative deal on the new schedule "months ago." Last year, Key Resolve took place from March 13-24 and Foal Eagle from March 1-April 30, with hundreds of thousands of soldiers mobilized.