June 21, 2018 / 6:43 AM / a month ago

U.S. Indo-Pacific commander assures Japan over North Korean denuclearization

TOKYO (Reuters) - The U.S. Indo-Pacific military commander told Japan’s defense minister on Thursday that Washington remained committed to the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.

New U.S. Indo-Pacific military commander (INDOPACOM) Adm. Phillip Davidson (L) meets with Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Japan, June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Promoted to commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) last month, Admiral Philip Davidson gave the assurance during his first official visit to Japan for two days of talks with Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera.

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His visit comes after President Donald Trump said the United States would halt large scale military drills with neighboring South Korea during denuclearization talks with North Korea. Trump made that announcement following a summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore earlier this month.

“The U.S. is firmly committed to the complete verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and I am committed to our mutual alliance,” Davidson said at the outset of talks with Onodera in Tokyo.

Japan, which hosts some 50,000 U.S. military personnel, including the biggest overseas concentration of U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy carrier strike group, relies on the Washington for its defense and operates closely with its military.

“We need to closely watch North Korea’s steps toward denuclearization. The Japan U.S. alliance plays a crucial role in this,” Onodera said.

Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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