Posts Tagged ‘Mattis’

Pentagon Moves to Develop Banned Intermediate Missile

November 17, 2017

Washington is raising pressure on Russia, saying it is violating an arms control treaty

The U.S. is laying the groundwork to build a type of missile banned by a Cold War-era pact unless Russia abandons its own pursuit of the weapons, U.S. officials said.

The U.S. military’s preliminary research and development, previously undisclosed, is aimed at potentially reviving an arsenal of prohibited ground-based, intermediate-range missiles if Moscow continues violating the pact, the officials said.

American officials say they don’t want to end the Cold War-era accord, known as the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or the INF, but rather bring Russia back into compliance. Washington hopes to show Moscow the kinds of new American weapons Russia’s armed forces would face if they don’t stop violating the INF, U.S. officials say.

The U.S. told Russia of its research project in recent weeks, according to U.S. officials, but said was ready to abandon it if Russia returns to compliance, the officials said.

“The idea here is we need to send a message to the Russians that they will pay a military price for violation of this treaty,” one U.S. official said. “We are posturing ourselves to live in a post-INF world…if that is the world the Russians want.”

A Russian official said Thursday that the U.S., not Moscow, has been violating the treaty through its missile-defense installations in Europe. The U.S. denies that claim. The official added that Russian President Vladimir Putin has said a U.S. treaty withdrawal would bring an “immediate and reciprocal” Russian response.

In meetings in Brussels last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told allies that Washington was trying to use new leverage to push Moscow into compliance. He said Washington had no plans to abandon the INF.

“Our effort is to bring Russia back into compliance,” Mr. Mattis said last week. “It is not to walk away from the treaty.”

Arms Control

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force, or INF, Treaty was signed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev in Washington on Dec. 8, 1987. Key facts about the treaty:

  • Banned the use of intermediate and shorter range missiles with a range of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers (about 300 to 3,400 miles).
  • By 1991, it eliminated more than 2,700 U.S. and Soviet missiles, including hundreds of American Pershing IIs and Soviet SS-20s.
  • The U.S. gave up 846 missile systems and the Soviets scrapped 1,846 systems.
  • The U.S. missiles were in countries including Germany, the U.K., Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.
  • The Soviet missiles were in Belarus, Bulgaria, then-Czechoslovakia, Ukraine and Russia, among others.
  • Source: U.S. State Department, Federal of American Scientists, INF Treaty documents.

The U.S. would only be in violation of the treaty if it tests, produces or fields the new ground-based cruise missile under development. Researching and designing the weapon doesn’t constitute a violation.

Mr. Mattis is trying to balance Washington’s more muscular response with European fears that the U.S. would abandon an arms-control pact that leaders on the continent saw as a critical milestone in reducing Cold War tensions.

The INF push is part of a larger effort to craft a new Russia strategy by the State and Defense Departments, U.S. officials said. The administration is making a push for a Ukraine peacekeeping deal and is trying to strengthen arms control accords that have frayed amid U.S.-Russian tensions, say U.S. officials.

This summer, Congress instructed the Pentagon to begin research and development on an intermediate-range, road-mobile, ground-launched missile system in response to Russia’s violations of the treaty. The Pentagon started preliminary research for the missile given the likelihood that it soon would be required by law, U.S. officials said.

The House and Senate passed legislation authorizing research and development of a conventional “ground mobile” cruise missile, adding an extra potential challenge to Russian defenses if deployed. The White House is likely to approve it in the coming weeks, U.S. officials said.

The legislation also requires the administration to develop a new plan for additional sanctions on Russia related to its violations of the INF and authorizes the administration to “invoke legal countermeasures,” including possible suspension of the treaty.

For months, the U.S. has sought ways to secure Russian compliance with the INF. The U.S. summoned Moscow in late 2016 to a mandatory meeting under a special treaty commission to answer for the alleged Russian violations, to no avail.

In March, Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Russians had violated the treaty by deploying a land-based cruise missile. The missile’s range puts it at odds with the treaty, U.S. officials have said.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan, right, and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty in the White House in 1987.Photo: REUTERS

The INF Treaty, signed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union in 1987, entered into force the following year and banned the use and production of nuclear and conventionally-armed missiles that fly between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (311 miles and 3,418 miles). It doesn’t ban those fired by ships or aircraft.

Russian officials have denied they are in violation of the treaty and instead have accused the Pentagon of violating the pact by installing Aegis Ashore missile defense systems in Romania and Poland. U.S. officials have denied that accusation, saying that the Aegis systems launch only missiles outside the parameters of the treaty.

The legislation calls on the administration to determine whether Russia’s RS-26 is banned by the INF or will be regulated as an intercontinental ballistic missile. Moscow also has stoked concern with its SSC-8 cruise missile.

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Russia’s RS-26

The INF Treaty remains critical for Europe’s security. The pact removed American-made Pershing II missiles from Europe, along with Soviet RDS-10 Pioneer, known to NATO as the SS-20.

The usually stoic NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, grew passionate this month while defending the INF Treaty’s importance.

“I’m part of a political generation in Europe which really grew up with the very intense debate related to the deployment of the SS-20s and the Pershing,” he said. “We also very much welcomed the INF Treaty which then eliminated all these weapons in Europe. So, I think that the INF Treaty is a cornerstone.”

Write to Julian E. Barnes at, Paul Sonne at and Brett Forrest at

Pentagon approves Qatari F-15 fighter jet support deal — a $1.1 billion deal

November 2, 2017

Image may contain: skyscraper, sky, ocean, outdoor and water

The United States government on Wednesday approved a $1.1 billion deal to service Qatar’s F-15 fighter jets despite the diplomatic stand-off between the Gulf emirate and its neighbors.

Qatar, home to one of the largest US military bases in the Middle East, is locked in a bitter dispute with Washington’s other Arab allies in the region, led by Saudi Arabia.

Image result for Qatar F-15 fighter jets, photos

US President Donald Trump took Riyadh’s side in June when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has taken a more cautious line, attempting to broker an agreement to cool ties and build a regional front against Iranian influence and extremism.

On Wednesday, the State Department announced it had approved a $1.1 billion contract to service Qatar’s F-15QA jets and build them ground facilities and hardened bunkers.

“Qatar is an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Persian Gulf region,” the department said, in a note from its Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

“Our mutual defense interests anchor our relationship and the Qatar Emiri Air Force plays a predominant role in Qatar’s defense.”

The new maintenance and training facilities will also come with improved “cyber security services, mission critical computer resources, support services, force protection services.”

Tillerson visited both Riyadh and the Qatari capital Doha last month in an effort to curb Iran’s influence in the region and urge the Arab monarchies to negotiate away their differences.


Pentagon approves Qatari F-15 fighter jet support deal

In June, Qatar signed a deal to buy 72 US-made F-15 fighter jets [QNA]
In June, Qatar signed a deal to buy 72 US-made F-15 fighter jets [QNA]

The US state department has approved a deal for the support programme of Qatar’s F-15 fighter aircraft at an estimated cost of $1.1bn.

In June, Qatar and the US signed a $12bn agreement in which Doha bought 72 of the multi-role fighter jets.

The Pentagon said it had informed Congress of the agreement involving design and construction work, including the development of cybersecurity, protection, support and other related services.

Congress now has 30 days to sign off on the deal.

In a statement, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said “Qatar is an important force for political stability and economic progress” in the Gulf region, and pointed out the strength of its relations with the Qatari Emiri Air Force (QEAF).

“A robust construction, cybersecurity, and force protection infrastructure is vital to ensuring the QEAF partners can utilize the F-15QA aircraft to its full potential,” the statement said.

“Qatar will have no difficulty absorbing this support into its armed forces.”


US, UK affirm long-haul stay in Qatar’s military base

The state department’s approval came as the Gulf crisis between Qatar and four blockading countries – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates(UAE) and Egypt – continues.

Last month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson blamed the quartet for the impasse with Doha.

In an interview with Bloomberg, the top diplomat stressed that the leaders of the Saudi-led blockading alliance would have to take part in a dialogue to resolve the Gulf crisis.

“It’s up to the leadership of the quartet when they want to engage with Qatar because Qatar has been very clear – they’re ready to engage,” he said.

The deal, which had been under negotiation since November 2016, was aimed at enabling Qatar’s technical capacity and enhance security cooperation between Washington and Doha.


Mattis, Tillerson ask Congress for authorization of military force without end date

November 1, 2017
“We must recognize that we are in an era of frequent skirmishing, and we are more likely to end this fight sooner If we don’t tell our adversary the day we intend to stop fighting,” Defense Secretary James Mattis told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday.
By James LaPorta  |  Updated Oct. 31, 2017 at 3:46 PM

Secretary of Defense James Mattis (left) and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testify during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on “The Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Administration Perspective” on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on October 30, 2017. Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI

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Oct. 31 (UPI) — As the 16-year debate rages on Capitol Hill over the legal authority sending the U.S. military to combat, a new bipartisan bill proposes a new legal authority to replace active authorities that date back to President George W. Bush‘s administration.

On Monday, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cemented the White House’s reliance on a pair of 15-year-old authorizations for military force as the legal cornerstone permitting the executive branch to stage counter-terrorism operations.

A new authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, has been proposed by Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and is being considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The new AUMF would seek to replace two previous ones, the 2001 AUMF signed seven days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States and the 2002 AUMF authorizing the invasion of Iraq. The two AUMFs, in addition to Article II of the U.S. Constitution, are seen by the Trump administration as legally authorizing the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said their new AUMF would sunset after five years and require the administration to notify Congress if it sends troops to new areas of operation not listed in it.

“I think they’ve done a pretty good job in laying that out,” Corker said of Kaine and Flake’s AUMF proposal. “Members are going to want to express themselves, and Sen. Cardin and I are two members that are going to want to do that also. Again, I think that the only area to me that left somewhat of a debate was the associated forces issue and just whether an actual sunset versus reversing that out and giving Congress an ability to weigh in.”

The “associated forces” issue refers to groups that align themselves with terrorist organizations named under the original AUMF, such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Kaine and Flake’s AUMF draft defines associated forces as any group that supports al-Qaeda, ISIS or the Taliban, and is engaged in hostilities against the United States. The bill also requires congressional notification when the administration adds a new terrorist group to the list.

Corker said he plans to hold more hearings on the issue in months to come, but admitted he sees little hope for progress.

“Moving ahead without significant bipartisan support would be a mistake in my opinion,” Corker said. “And right now, we are unable to bridge that gap.”

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said last week that he is working with Democratic members on crafting a bipartisan AUMF compromise, adding that he expects the results of those negotiations to be reveal in the near future.

“The next step most logically is to attempt to move to a markup and to actually try to pass an [authorization for the use of military force] out of committee,” Corker said, noting that he plans to work with ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., to begin a draft “fairly soon.”

“We want to discuss what provisions are most likely to make it through, but fairly soon,” he said. “I don’t know why we would wait. We had a great hearing. We had a good classified briefing. We all know the subject matter. If we’re ever going to attempt to do this, I don’t know why we would wait beyond the next several weeks.”

Mattis and Tillerson told senators that a new AUMF should not be time or geographically constrained due to the metastasizing nature of foreign terrorist organizations, as well as to avoid telegraphing a timeframe of U.S strategy or when that strategy will cease.

“Generally speaking, you don’t tell the enemy in advance what you’re not going to do,” Mattis told Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. “There’s no need to announce that to the enemy and relieve them of that concern.”

“We must recognize that we are in an era of frequent skirmishing, and we are more likely to end this fight sooner If we don’t tell our adversary the day we intend to stop fighting,” Mattis said.

The secretaries told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the current 2001 AUMF, which was instituted seven days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to authorize the Bush administration to go after al-Qaeda operatives and the Taliban in Afghanistan — along with the 2002 AUMF for the Iraq War — and Article II of the U.S. Constitution, give the Trump administration the proper legal authorities to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Mattis and Tillerson both testified to Congress, however, that if a new AUMF were drafted and passed, it should not repeal the current AUMFs until the new authorization is in place. The goal would be to avoid operational conflict and continue running of the detention center at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

US’s Jim Mattis: North Korea nuclear threat is accelerating

October 28, 2017

The US defense chief Jim Mattis has warned Pyongyang that the US would not accept North Korea as a nuclear power. Washington and Seoul have agreed to further cooperate on defense issues.

James Mattis in South Korea (picture alliance/AP/J. Yeon-Je)

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Saturday threatened North Korea with “a massive military response” should it decide to use nuclear weapons.

Mattis said the threat of a nuclear attack from North Korea was accelerating, but that it was still no match for US and South Korean firepower.

“North Korea has accelerated the threat that it poses to its neighbors and the world through its illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear weapons programs,” he said during his second day in South Korea for annual defense talks.

Read more: Jim Mattis says US goal not war with North Korea

Mattis said diplomacy remained a “preferred course of action” but stressed, “our diplomats are most effective when backed by credible military force.”

“Make no mistake — any attack on the United States or our allies will be defeated.”

Increasing missile payload

Read more: Japan PM Shinzo Abe pledges pressure on North Korea after big election win

He underscored that the US would not accept the North as a nuclear power, speaking at a joint news conference with his South Korean counterpart Song Young Moo.

Song told journalists that he and Mattis had agreed to cooperate further on strengthening Seoul’s defense capabilities. He said measures would include lifting warhead payload limits on South Korean conventional missiles and supporting the country’s acquisition of “most advanced military assets.”

He refused to answer questions on nuclear-powered submarines though, which some South Korean officials have been calling for.

Will not redeploy nuclear weapons

Read more: North Korean envoy says nuclear war could break out at ‘any moment’

Some conservative politicians in the south have also been calling for the redeployment of US tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, but Mattis and Song were both dismissive of the idea.



On North Korea Border, Mattis Says Kim Threatening ‘Catastrophe’

October 27, 2017


By Kanga Kong and Kyungji Cho

  • North Korea says it will repatriate crew of South Korean boat
  • Pyongyang has avoided provocations since Sept. 15 missile
 Image result for mattis at dmz, photos

 U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo visit Observation Post Ouellette in Paju in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border between North and South Korea on Friday. Jung Yeon-je / AP

In a visit to the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Friday accused North Korea of building a nuclear arsenal to “threaten others with catastrophe,” the Yonhap news agency reported.

Mattis pledged solidarity with U.S. ally South Korea, saying that President Donald Trump’s administration wants to avoid war if possible and remains committed to forcing North Korea to disarm, according to Yonhap.

The defense secretary is in South Korea for talks this weekend with counterpart Song Young-moo on a trip that comes ahead of Trump’s planned visit to the country early next month. They are set to discuss the bilateral defense alliance, including a timetable for returning wartime operational control to Seoul from Washington.

While a Trump visit to the DMZ hasn’t been ruled out by the White House, it could been seen as provocative — North and South Korean soldiers stand feet part on either side of a line that marks the heavily fortified border. Tensions have eased in recent weeks during a brief halt in Pyongyang’s nuclear tests and missile launches. The reclusive nation’s last missile launch was on Sept. 15., an intermediate-range missile that flew over the northern Japan.

Making time to visit a U.S.-South Korean military observation post to peer into North Korea, Mattis was also briefed on conditions along the border created after a truce halted the Korean War in 1953.

Diplomacy should “start by addressing a fundamental issue at the heart of the problem: namely, that no peace treaty has ever been signed,” Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, wrote in an article published Wednesday by Project Syndicate. “A dialogue to replace the 64-year-old armistice with a formal peace agreement could pave the way for broader discussions about nuclear escalation and other threats to regional stability.”

Call for Talks

“The nuclear device and missiles that North Korea is developing are unusable weapons, and any use of them will be strongly retaliated by the united forces of South Korea and the U.S.,” said South Korea’s Song, who accompanied Mattis on the trip. “We strongly call for North Korea to stop its reckless provocations and come to the inter-Korean dialogue for peace as soon as possible.”

South Korea’s military said this week that no particular signs beyond ordinary activities have been spotted, though North Korea continues to seek the capability to strike the U.S. with a nuclear weapon.

Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said Oct. 16 that a nuclear war “may break out any moment” and that “the entire U.S. mainland is within our firing range.” Another senior official told CNN this week that the world should take literally his country’s threat to test a nuclear weapon above ground.

Fishing Boat

In a rare gesture ahead of Mattis’s visit, North Korea plans to return on Friday a South Korean fishing boat and crew captured last week. Pyongyang notified Seoul via a report from its official Korean Central News Agency as all inter-Korean communication lines have been cut off, South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said at a briefing.

If returned, this would be the first repatriation by North Korea of South Korean citizens since 2010, Baik said. South Korea has returned North Koreans crossing maritime borders on seven occasions since President Moon Jae-in took power in May.

KCNA said the crew “deliberately intruded” into its waters, but will return them “from the humanitarian point of view.”

Separately, the U.S. Treasury Department added seven more individuals and three entities connected with the North Korean regime to its sanctions list.

“We also are targeting North Korean financial facilitators who attempt to keep the regime afloat with foreign currency earned through forced labor operations,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

— With assistance by Peter Pae, and David Tweed



SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea said on Friday it (Oct 27) will accept the release of a South Korean fishing boat captured by North Korea later in the day, with a government spokesman saying it is “a relief” the crewmen on board would be returned.

The proposed return of the boat and its crew would avoid a potential flashpoint to the months-long standoff between Pyongyang and South Korea and its US ally.

The vessel and its crew would be released in waters at the military boundary between the two Koreas, which are still technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce not a peace treaty.

It will happen hours after a visit  on Friday morning by US Defence Secretary James Mattis to the truce village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ).

Mattis said America’s goal was not to wage war with Pyongyang but to convince leader Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear arsenal.

“North Korean provocations continue to threaten regional and global security despite unanimous condemnation by the United Nations Security Council,” Mattis said in prepared remarks as he visited the DMZ.

Ahead of a visit by US President Donald Trump to Asia starting next week, Mattis has emphasised diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the current crisis during his week-long trip to the region.

“I carried the message that the more we do together today the greater the chance for enduring peace in the future,” Mattis said earlier this week following three days of meetings with Asian defence chiefs in the Philippines.

“That’s really what it was all about – to keep the (North Korea) effort firmly in the diplomatic lane for resolution.”

“Do we have military options in defence for attack, if our allies are attacked? Of course we do. But everyone is out for a peaceful resolution,” Mattis told reporters travelling with him earlier this week. “No one’s rushing for war.”

The highest-ranking military officers of South Korea and the United States on Friday (Oct 27) held talks in Seoul on key alliance issues and will report the outcome of their talks to the defence ministers — South Korea’s Song Young Moo and Mattis on Saturday.

In a show of force, the US has sent three aircraft carriers and their missile-armed escorts to the western Pacific Ocean for the first time since 2017 ahead of Mr Trump’s visit to Asia.

“This was a unique opportunity to show that the US (is) the only power in the world that can demonstrate that kind of presence, and a unique opportunity for them to be together,” chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said during a regular press briefing on Thursday.

“It’s not directed towards any particular threat, but it’s a demonstration that we can do something that no one else in the world can.”

The deployment of USS Nimitz, USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Ronald Reagan came amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on seven North Korean individuals and three entities for “flagrant” human rights abuses, including killings, torture, forced labour and the hunting down of asylum seekers abroad.

The South’s Unification Ministry’s spokesman Baik Tae Hyun said the North’s message via its state agency early on Friday was the first contact Seoul had received regarding the vessel, Baik told a regular media briefing.

The fishing boat, which left port on Oct 16, had been reported as missing from Oct 21 and relevant authorities had been searching for the vessel, Baik added.

North Korea said it had captured the boat on Oct 21 and will release it at 5.30 pm on Friday (Singapore time) in waters off the east coast.

A report by North Korea’s news agency KCNA said that an investigation by the North had proved the boat and crew had entered North Korean waters for fishing.

North Korea decided to release the boat after “taking into account the fact that all the crewmen honestly admitted their offence, repeatedly apologising and asking for leniency,” the report said in English.

North Korean fishing boats have been found drifting south of the maritime border between the two Koreas at times, often having run out of fuel or broken down. Most North Korean crew are released to the North after interrogations by intelligence officials if they wish to return.

It is more unusual for South Korean fishing vessels to be found under similar circumstances.

A South Korean Unification Ministry official said it was aware the fishing boat had gone missing earlier in the week. The crew of 10, including seven South Koreans and three Vietnamese, would be questioned by officials on their return, he added.

The last time North Korea released a South Korean ship was in September 2010 roughly a month after a fishing vessel had accidentally drifted north of the maritime border following engine malfunctions.

Even before landing in Seoul on Friday, Mattis held a meeting in the Philippines on Monday with his South Korea and Japanese counterparts, where they agreed to keep bolstering intelligence sharing about North Korea and enhance exercises.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera warned the threat from North Korea has grown to a “critical and imminent level”.

CIA chief Mike Pompeo said last week North Korea could be only months away from developing the ability to hit the United States with nuclear weapons, a scenario Trump has vowed to prevent.

US intelligence experts say Pyongyang believes it needs the weapons to ensure its survival and have been sceptical about diplomatic efforts, focusing on sanctions, to get Pyongyang to denuclearize.

Trump, in a speech last month at the United Nations, threatened to destroy North Korea if necessary to defend itself and allies. Kim has blasted Trump as “mentally deranged”.

Despite the rhetoric, White House officials say Trump is looking for a peaceful resolution of the standoff. But all options, including military ones, are on the table.

Mattis says US goal is ‘not war’ over N. Korea

October 27, 2017


© POOL/AFP | Tension has flared on the Korean peninsula as Donald Trump and the North’s young ruler Kim Jong-Un have traded threats of war and personal insults that sparked global alarm

SEOUL (AFP) – Washington’s goal “is not war” as it seeks to ease high military tension with Pyongyang, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Friday, standing at the heavily-fortified border between the two Koreas.Tension has flared on the Korean peninsula as US President Donald Trump and the North’s ruler Kim Jong-Un have traded threats of war and personal insults that sparked global alarm.

But Mattis, who visited the tense Demilitarised Zone during a trip to South Korea, said the US was committed to a “diplomatic solution”.

“As the US Secretary of State 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.

Mattis also stressed 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”.

The remark came a day after Mattis had said Washington was “not rushing to war” and was looking for a “peaceful resolution”.

He is set to hold annual defence talks with Song on Saturday during the two-day trip, which comes ahead of a planned trip by Trump to the South — a key US ally in Asia — next month.

Trump is set to visit Seoul from November 7 to 8 with all eyes on his message to the North and Kim.

The isolated North carried out its sixth nuclear test last month and has launched several missiles in recent months potentially capable of reaching the mainland of its “imperialist enemy” the US.

The moves, staged in violation of UN resolutions banning the North from any use of atomic and ballistic technology, prompted new US-led UN sanctions against the impoverished state.

Pyongyang reacted angrily to new sanctions, and Trump’s recent remark that “only one thing will work” with the North fuelled concerns of a potential conflict.

But even some Trump advisers say US military options are limited when Pyongyang could launch an artillery barrage on the South Korean capital Seoul — only around 50 kilometres from the border and home to 10 million people.

The North says its atomic weapons are “treasured sword” to protect itself from potential invasion by the US.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif Tells U.S. To “Stop Listening To Failed Generals on Afghanistan”

October 26, 2017
Published: October 26, 2017


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Wednesday it was ready to help the US in Afghanistan but would not act as the proxy for any country and urged Washington to get input from politicians and experts rather than the generals, who had already failed in the war-torn country.

In a policy statement in the Senate, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said the US has provided Islamabad a list of 75 wanted persons, which did not include a single Pakistani citizen, while Pakistan has given a list of 100 criminals to the US and Afghanistan.

On Tuesday Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani summoned the foreign minister to take upper house of Parliament into confidence over US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Rabbani was irked by Tillerson’s remarks in Kabul on Monday in which he asked Pakistan to act on US demands.

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There is huge trust deficit between Pakistan, US over Afghan conflict: Khawaja Asif

Asif told the house there was no Pakistani national in the list of 75 wanted persons provided by the US. “No Pakistani national, including Hafiz Saeed, is in this list,” he said, adding that the Haqani network is on the top and some were shadow governors of Taliban. “Many on the list are not alive,” he said.

He added Pakistan had also handed a list of 100 people wanted by Islamabad to the US and Afghanistan and it had been conveyed to the President Donald Trump’s administration that any Indian role in Afghanistan would not be acceptable to Pakistan.

Speaking about the talks with Tillerson on Tuesday, the foreign minister said that the US had been negotiating with Taliban but remained inflexible when it came to Haqqani network. Pakistan, he said, had assured the US of taking action “if it provides credible information” against the Haqqani network.

“We have neither surrendered nor [do we] take any dictation from US. We will not compromise on our national interest. For the first time all institutions of Pakistan have jointly conveyed this to the US in one huddle,” he said, referring to Pakistan’s civil and military leadership’s joint meeting with Tillerson.

“We do not need any aid,” the foreign minister told the senators. “We want relations with the US on the basis of mutual respect. We are ready to help the US in Afghanistan but we would not become anyone’s proxy,” he added.

Commenting on the lingering war in Afghanistan, Asif said that the US must look inward and analyse what it has gained in the country after such a long war. He added the US Central Command (CentCom) and the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) could not meet with success in Afghanistan.

On the contrary, the minister added, Pakistan remained successful in the war against terrorism because of unmatched sacrifices rendered by its civilians and the law-enforcement personnel. “We have made our country safe and secure after great sacrifices by our security forces and the people of the country.”

The minister believed that the Afghan government was acting as facilitator of India against Pakistan. “It has also been conveyed to the Trump administration that any Indian role in Afghanistan would not be acceptable to Pakistan,” he added.

He said terrorists did not need to use Pakistani land when they had enough space available in Afghanistan.

“The Afghan administration does not have control on 45% of the country, where Da’ish has taken its roots. This ungoverned area is more than enough for Da’ish and other terrorist organisations to find save havens.”

Asif accused the ruling class of neighbouring country of not being sincere in resolving the Afghan issue, saying that lawlessness favoured narcotics trade there. “Afghanistan should first put its own house in order and take responsibility of the failure,” he told the house.

The foreign minister said that Pakistan emphasised upon the US to try political solution in Afghanistan because the use of military power alone in the past has failed. “In the end, he said, the Afghan issue would be “resolved through dialogue”.

Khawaja Asif told senators Pakistan no more held any influence over the Afghan Taliban. There was time, he said, when Pakistan used to have that influence, “but now the group has found new people for their sustenance”.

He indirectly blamed the US for the diminishing of Islamabad’s influence over the Taliban, saying that when Pakistan brought the Taliban to the negotiating table two years ago, the effort was sabotaged by leaking the death of their supremo Mulla Omar.

Commenting on the new US strategy for South Asia, he said that policy for Afghanistan had been formulated by those generals who failed on the ground, but were not ready to accept the ground realities.

Minister added that Islamabad has urged the US to get input from politicians and experts instead of those failed generals, who would never “formulate a policy where they have to concede their humiliation”.

Hafiz Saeed’s name not on list of 75 militants handed over by US: Khawaja Asif

He said former military ruler General (now retired) Pervez Musharraf surrendered before the US demands after the September 11, 2001 attacks in Washington and New York. The former military dictator unabashedly admitted getting money in exchange for handing over people to the US.

“Compromises made by military dictators in the past are the reason for the situation Pakistan is mired in today,” he said. “Had Pakistan not volunteered in the so-called Afghan jihad [in the 1980s], Pakistan would not have faced this situation.” He added after the blunder of becoming a proxy in the Afghan jihad, another massive compromise was made following the 9/11 episode.

The minister informed the house that security arrangements for Tillerson’s visit to Pakistan was usual. However, he added, the situation was entirely different during his visit to Afghanistan where even President Ashraf Ghani had to come to Bagram Airfield. “In a country, where forces of 16 nations are deployed for some 18 years, he [Tillerson] did not feel safe to move out of the airbase.”

The minister said that following the ‘loud and clear message’ given by Parliament and the National Security Committee after the US President’s August 21 speech, there would be no compromise or surrender.

“We have also proposed to the US government for repatriation of Afghan refugees,” he said, adding that after the repatriation of the refugees and fencing on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, there would be a complete control over the cross-border movement of terrorists.

He said there were no accusations in Tillerson’s meeting with Pakistani leadership rather the US side made a request for cooperation. “Pakistan also pointed out that there were some other regional countries whose role was ‘absolutely indispensable’ in the peace efforts.

He particularly named Iran, China, and Russia among the influential countries. He said Pakistan wanted to repair its relations with US and bridge the trust deficit. He said Tillerson extended cooperation for reducing tension on Pakistan’s eastern border so that Pakistan could focus fully on its western border.


US defense chief’s Philippines visit overshadowed as Duterte trumpets China, Russia ties — Time to End The Mutual Defense Treaty?

October 26, 2017
US Defense Secretary James Mattis attends the 11th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers (ADMM) and 4th ADMM-Plus in Clark, east of Manila on October 24, 2017. Noel Celis/AFP

MANILA, Philippines — US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis departed the Philippines on Wednesday, after having praised its military for defeating—with Washington’s help—Islamic State-inspired extremists in Marawi City.

Mattis’ arrival earlier this week for the ASEAN meetings was on time for the conclusion of the months-long insurgency, but his visit to the US’ oldest ally in Asia shared the spotlight with grand gestures by geopolitical rivals.

China turned over heavy construction equipment for the rehabilitation of the decimated city. Russia also turned over trucks and firearms after its warships docked at Subic Bay, a former American facility.

Even as the coinciding of events involves China and Russia, both of whom President Rodrigo Duterte has warmed up to, Mattis insisted that he does not “put a lot of significance to it.”

“I know some trucks [from Russia] are done being dropped off to help the country that’s fighting terrorists right now… It’s a sovereign decision by the Philippines,” Mattis said en route to Thailand.

In a separate interview where he was asked whether he had reservations about Manila’s welcoming of weapons from Moscow, Mattis gave a terse answer: “No.”

Manila has long aligned its interests with Washington’s as cemented in a decades-old defense treaty. Meanwhile, it has had a tense relationship with Beijing over opposing claims in the South China Sea, culminating in last year’s arbitral award that rejected China’s position, until recently.

Bringing his personal aversion for the US to office, Duterte chose to pull China closer, touting Beijing’s support for his controversial war on drugs and costly infrastructure development plan.

At the end of the counterterrorism campaign in Marawi, Duterte heaped praises on China and Russia for what he described as considerable assistance to the Philippines. He remained relatively reserved in publicly acknowledging the broader support of the country’s traditional ally, but this does not come as a surprise.

Duterte delivered harsh rhetoric in his first year as president over what he deemed as the US’ meddling in the Philippines’ affairs. In recent months, Duterte has openly admitted he would tone down and made a scant acknowledgment of Washington’s contribution to the ongoing battle in Marawi.

The US meanwhile extended one form of assistance after another. It provided intelligence to the military in the months-long operation in Marawi. It also turned over a major grant of various firearms in May when the clash erupted.

Yet the president graced ceremonies for China and Russia’s assistance and credited the Asian giant for the military’s victory while Mattis was in the country.

Emerging from a bilateral meeting with the tough-talking leader, Mattis described it as “very warm” with a “very open discussion.”

“It was a very good discussion with the president and we talked about the way ahead, and we’re on the same team,” Mattis said, as seen in a transcript released by the US Department of Defense.

RELATED:Duterte’s claims on US aid to Philippine military

A day after China pledged a new donation of four “fast boats” and Mattis’ departure, the US Ambassador to the Philippine Sung Kim on Thursday announced the nation’s pride for having “supported the Armed Forces of the Philippines as they defeated the terrorist insurrection in Marawi City.”.


Mattis says to discuss N. Korea threat on Philippines trip — Praises the Philippines for its successes in battling Islamic State in Marawi

October 23, 2017


Image result for james mattis, philippines, photos

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis

CLARK (PHILIPPINES) (AFP) – US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Monday that curbing military threats from North Korea would be high on the agenda on his Asian tour this week, ahead of a visit by Donald Trump.

Tension has been high on the divided peninsula for months with Pyongyang staging its sixth nuclear test and launching two ICBMs that apparently brought much of the US mainland into range.

Trump and the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un have meanwhile traded threats of war and personal insults.

Mattis, on his way to the Philippines for security talks with Southeast Asian defence ministers, said he would discuss the “regional security crisis caused by reckless… North Korea” among other issues.

At the forum, Mattis is also expected to hold three-way talks with his counterparts from South Korea and Japan — key US allies in Asia — before visiting Seoul for annual defence talks.

“We will discuss… how we are going to maintain peace by keeping our militaries alert while our diplomats — Japanese, South Korean and US — work with all nations to denuclearise the Korean peninsula,” Mattis told reporters on his aircraft.

He stressed the international community’s goal was to denuclearise the flashpoint region, adding: “There is only one country with nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.”

Mattis’ visit to Seoul comes ahead of Trump’s first presidential trip to Asia next month, which also includes South Korea. All eyes will be on Trump’s message to the isolated North.

His recent remark that “only one thing will work” with North Korea fuelled concerns of a potential conflict.

But even some Trump advisers say US military options are limited when Pyongyang could launch an artillery barrage on the South Korean capital Seoul — only around 50 kilometres from the heavily fortified border and home to 10 million people.

The defence ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), meeting in the northern Philippine city of Clark ahead of talks with Mattis, issued a strong statement against North Korea on Monday.

“(We) express grave concerns over the escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula including the testing and launching by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in addition to its previous nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches,” the joint declaration said.

“(We) strongly urge the DPRK to immediately comply with its obligations arising from all the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.”

Mattis met with his counterparts from ASEAN on Monday afternoon.


U.S. defense chief Mattis praises Philippines for success in Marawi

Mattis: ‘It was a very tough fight as you know in southern Mindanao. And I think the Philippine military sends a very strong message to the terrorists.’

Published 12:59 PM, October 23, 2017
Updated 1:00 PM, October 23, 2017

PENTAGON CHIEF. In this file photo, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis arrives on Capitol Hill, October 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

PENTAGON CHIEF. In this file photo, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis arrives on Capitol Hill, October 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

CLARK, Philippines – US Defense Secretary James Mattis on Monday, October 23, praised the Philippines for its successes in battling Islamic State (ISIS) supporters, as he began an Asian trip aimed at reaffirming American support for regional allies.

Image result for Soldiers stand on guard in front of damaged buildings after government troops cleared the area from pro-Islamic State militant groups inside a war-torn area in Bangolo town, Marawi City, southern Philippines October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces the end of the battle for Marawi

Mattis echoed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement last week that Filipino forces had “liberated” the southern city of Marawi, after 5 months of bitter urban fighting that had claimed more than 1,000 lives, even though battles have continued.

 Image result for Soldiers stand on guard in front of damaged buildings after government troops cleared the area from pro-Islamic State militant groups inside a war-torn area in Bangolo town, Marawi City, southern Philippines October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
Damaged houses and buildings are seen after Philippine government troops cleared the area from pro-Islamic rebels. Reuters photo

“One of the first things I’m going to do when I get there is commend the Philippine military for liberating Marawi from the terrorists,” Mattis told reporters on the flight to the Philippines, according to an official transcript.

“It was a very tough fight as you know in southern Mindanao. And I think the Philippine military sends a very strong message to the terrorists.”

Gunmen who had pledged allegiance to ISIS occupied parts of Marawi, the largest Islamic city of the mainly Catholic Philippines, on May 23 in what Duterte said was a bid to establish a Southeast Asian caliphate there.

Hundreds of insurgents withstood a US-backed military campaign, including near daily air strikes and artillery fire, that displaced more than 400,000 people and left large parts of Marawi in ruins.

Duterte last week travelled to Marawi to declare it had been “liberated”, a day after the Southeast Asian leader for ISIS, Isnilon Hapilon, was shot dead there.

Image result for Soldiers stand on guard in front of damaged buildings after government troops cleared the area from pro-Islamic State militant groups inside a war-torn area in Bangolo town, Marawi City, southern Philippines October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Philippine troops at work

However deadly fighting has continued, with the military reporting dozens of militants are still resisting in a small pocket of the city.

Mattis flew to the Philippines to attend a meeting hosted by Southeast Asian defense ministers at the former American military base of Clark, two hours’ drive north of Manila.

The Philippines is a former American colony and the two nations are bound by a mutual defense treaty.

But relations have soured under Duterte as he has sought to build closer ties with China and Russia.

Defense ministers from Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Russia are also scheduled to attend the two-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) event.

Mattis’ Asia trip, which will also take him to Thailand and South Korea, comes ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Asia next month.

Some American allies in the region have become wary of Trump’s interest in Asia.

Mattis sought to reassure allies.

“The US remains unambiguously committed to supporting ASEAN,” Mattis said. –

Trump Risks Inciting World War III — Republican Senator says

October 9, 2017


The New York Times

Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, last week in Washington. Credit Tom Brenner/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”

“He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”

Mr. Corker’s comments capped a remarkable day of sulfurous insults between the president and the Tennessee senator — a powerful, if lame-duck, lawmaker, whose support will be critical to the president on tax reform and the fate of the Iran nuclear deal.

It began on Sunday morning when Mr. Trump, posting on Twitter, accused Mr. Corker of deciding not to run for re-election because he “didn’t have the guts.” Mr. Corker shot back in his own tweet: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

The senator, Mr. Trump said, had “begged” for his endorsement. “I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement),” the president wrote. He also said that Mr. Corker had asked to be secretary of state. “I said ‘NO THANKS,’” he wrote.

Mr. Corker flatly disputed that account, saying Mr. Trump had urged him to run again, and promised to endorse him if he did. But the exchange laid bare a deeper rift: The senator views Mr. Trump as given to irresponsible outbursts — a political novice who has failed to make the transition from show business.

Mr. Trump poses such an acute risk, the senator said, that a coterie of senior administration officials must protect him from his own instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Mr. Corker said in a telephone interview.

The deeply personal back-and-forth will almost certainly rupture what had been a friendship with a fellow real estate developer turned elected official, one of the few genuine relationships Mr. Trump had developed on Capitol Hill. Still, even as he leveled his stinging accusations, Mr. Corker repeatedly said on Sunday that he liked Mr. Trump, until now an occasional golf partner, and wished him “no harm.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Mr. Corker’s remarks.

Mr. Trump’s feud with Mr. Corker is particularly perilous given that the president has little margin for error as he tries to pass a landmark overhaul of the tax code — his best, and perhaps last, hope of producing a major legislative achievement this year.

If Senate Democrats end up unified in opposition to the promised tax bill, Mr. Trump could lose the support of only two of the Senate’s 52 Republicans to pass it. That is the same challenging math that Mr. Trump and Senate Republican leaders faced in their failed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Corker could also play a key role if Mr. Trump follows through on his threat to “decertify” the Iran nuclear deal, kicking to Congress the issue of whether to restore sanctions on Tehran and effectively scuttle the pact.

Republicans could hold off on sanctions but use the threat of them to force Iran back to the negotiating table — a strategy being advocated by Senator Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican. But that approach could leave the United States isolated, and it will be up to Mr. Corker to balance opposition to the deal with the wishes of those, including some of Mr. Trump’s own aides, who want to change the accord but not blow it up.

Beyond the Iran deal, Mr. Corker’s committee holds confirmation hearings on Mr. Trump’s ambassadorial appointments. If the president were to oust Rex W. Tillerson as secretary of state, as some expect, Mr. Corker would lead the hearings on Mr. Trump’s nominee for the post.

In a 25-minute conversation, Mr. Corker, speaking carefully and purposefully, seemed to almost find cathartic satisfaction by portraying Mr. Trump in terms that most senior Republicans use only in private.

The senator, who is close to Mr. Tillerson, invoked comments that the president made on Twitter last weekend in which he appeared to undercut Mr. Tillerson’s negotiations with North Korea.

“A lot of people think that there is some kind of ‘good cop, bad cop’ act underway, but that’s just not true,” Mr. Corker said.

Without offering specifics, he said Mr. Trump had repeatedly undermined diplomacy with his Twitter fingers. “I know he has hurt, in several instances, he’s hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out,” Mr. Corker said.

All but inviting his colleagues to join him in speaking out about the president, Mr. Corker said his concerns about Mr. Trump were shared by nearly every Senate Republican.

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” he said, adding that “of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

As for the tweets that set off the feud on Sunday morning, Mr. Corker expressed a measure of powerlessness.

“I don’t know why the president tweets out things that are not true,” he said. “You know he does it, everyone knows he does it, but he does.”

The senator recalled four conversations this year, a mix of in-person meetings and phone calls, in which he said the president had encouraged him to run for re-election. Mr. Trump, he said, repeatedly indicated he wanted to come to Tennessee for an early rally on Mr. Corker’s behalf and even telephoned him last Monday to try to get him to reconsider his decision to retire.

“When I told him that that just wasn’t in the cards, he said, ‘You know, if you run, I’ll endorse you.’ I said, ‘Mr. President, it’s just not in the cards; I’ve already made a decision.’ So then we began talking about other candidates that were running.”

One of the most prominent establishment-aligned Republicans to develop a relationship with Mr. Trump, the senator said he did not regret standing with him during the campaign last year.

“I would compliment him on things that he did well, and I’d criticize things that were inappropriate,” he said. “So it’s been really the same all the way through.”

A former mayor of Chattanooga who became wealthy in construction, Mr. Corker, 65, has carved out a reputation over two terms in the Senate as a reliable, but not overly partisan, Republican.

While he opposed President Barack Obama’s divisive nuclear deal with Iran, he did not prevent it from coming to a vote on the Senate floor, which exposed him to fierce fire from conservatives, who blamed him for its passage.

Mr. Trump picked up on that theme hours after his initial tweets, writingthat “Bob Corker gave us the Iran Deal, & that’s about it. We need HealthCare, we need Tax Cuts/Reform, we need people that can get the job done!”

Mr. Corker was briefly a candidate to be Mr. Trump’s running mate in 2016, but he withdrew his name from consideration and later expressed ambivalence about Mr. Trump’s campaign, in part because he said he found it frustrating to discuss foreign policy with him.

To some extent, the rift between the two men had been building for months, as Mr. Corker repeatedly pointed out on Sunday to argue that his criticism was not merely that of a man liberated from facing the voters again.

After a report last week that Mr. Tillerson had once referred to Mr. Trump as a “moron,” Mr. Corker told reporters that Mr. Tillerson was one of three officials helping to “separate our country from chaos.” Those remarks were repeated on “Fox News Sunday,” which may have prompted Mr. Trump’s outburst.

In August, after Mr. Trump’s equivocal response to the deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Va., Mr. Corker told reporters that the president “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”

He said on Sunday that he had made all those comments deliberately, aiming them at “an audience of one, plus those people who are closely working around with him, what I would call the good guys.” He was referring to Mr. Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly.

“As long as there are people like that around him who are able to talk him down when he gets spun up, you know, calm him down and continue to work with him before a decision gets made, I think we’ll be fine,” he said.


Mr. Corker would not directly answer when asked whether he thought Mr. Trump was fit for the presidency. But he did say that the commander in chief was not fully aware of the power of his office.

“I don’t think he appreciates that when the president of the United States speaks and says the things that he does, the impact that it has around the world, especially in the region that he’s addressing,” he said. “And so, yeah, it’s concerning to me.”