A day after Defense Secretary James Mattis instructed Army leaders to “be ready” should the decision be made to use military force to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, President Donald Trump met with Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his military chiefs in the Situation Room at the White House.
The discussion likely revolved around what the president’s options are should Pyongyang engage in new ballistic missile or nuclear tests, which could come on Oct. 18, which is the start of China’s 19th People’s Congress. Launching on that date would be seen as leader Kim Jong-un’s protest against stinging sanctions that Beijing has backed.
News of Trump’s meeting was reported by a British tabloid, but the paper said the meeting was confirmed by State Dept. spokeswoman Heather Nauert, though she did not provide any details.
Mattis, in addressing the annual Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, was asked what the military could do to lessen the likelihood of war in Korea.
Mattis said the Trump administration was pursuing a diplomatic effort with North Korea, but the U.S. military can do its part by staying ready.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is right now a diplomatically-led, economically sanction-buttressed effort to try to turn North Korea off this path,” he said.
“Now, what does the future hold? Neither you nor I can say. So there’s one thing the U.S. Army can do, and that is, you have got to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our president can employ, if needed,” he said.
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