U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis meets South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is serving as acting president after President Park Geun-hye impeachment, saying the U.S. is committed to making the U.S.-South Korean relationship ''even stronger, especially in the face of the provocations that you face from the North.'' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis held a meeting with South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn on Thursday (February 2), who is serving as acting president after President Park Geun-hye was impeached over a corruption scandal. Earlier in the day, Mattis arrived in South Korea for two days and visited U.S. Forces Korea at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul. Mattis said he would sound out ally South Korea on efforts to address North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes as he arrived in Seoul, including plans to deploy a U.S. missile defence system there. "Our new administration inherits a very strong trusted relationship between our two countries. And it's our commitment to make it even stronger especially in the face of the provocations that you face from the North," Mattis said at the meeting. His visit comes amid concerns that the North may be readying to test a new ballistic missile, in what could be an early challenge for U.S. President Donald Trump's administration. South Korea and the United States say the deployment of THAAD is designed to protect against North Korea's growing nuclear and ballistic capabilities. "(U.S. president Donald Trump said that he) looked forward to further close consultation on alliance between the U.S. and South Korea and responding to North Korea's nuclear issue, so I expect this trip to Korea will bring many achievement," Hwang said. The North appears to have restarted operation of a reactor at its main Yongbyon nuclear facility that produces plutonium that can be used for its nuclear weapons program, according to a U.S. think tank, 38 North.