U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper arrived in South Korea Thursday for his two-day trip to Seoul.

On Friday Esper met South Korean counterpart Jeong Kyeong-doo for talks on the military alliance between the two countries.

The U.S. defense chief was also scheduled later during the day to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in about the trade dispute between the two Asia-Pacific nations.


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Esper was greeted with a welcome ceremony before the two defense chiefs sat down for talks on North Korea.

“As President Trump has made clear, the United States is willing to engage diplomatically with North Korea to make progress on all commitments made in the Singapore joint statement to achieve those ends,” said Esper.

He reiterated the U.S. stance on North Korea during his meeting with Kyeong-doo and South Korean officials.

“Together with our allies around the region, we will remain resolute in our enforcement of United Nations Security Council resolutions until the North engages in complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Esper said.

For his part, Kyeong-doo replied that he hoped South Korea and the United States would continue to cooperate on defense and to overcome any situations relating to national security issues.

The U.S. Defense Secretary also met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in later on Friday. His visit to Seoul came as South Korea hoped to seek U.S. support to resolve its trade dispute with Japan.

Japan recently downgraded South Korea’s trade status and South Korea responded by threatening to terminate a controversial bilateral agreement on sharing military intelligence.

This agreement is a key symbol of the countries’ trilateral security cooperation with United States, in face of North Korea’s nuclear threat and China’s increasing influence in Asia.

Following the meeting with the Korean leader, Esper tweeted that it was a “very productive engagement.”

In another tweet message, Esper stated that the two nations’ alliance is “ironclad” and thanked the Korean leaders for their warm hospitality.

Before concluding his trip to South Korea, Esper also visited members of the U.S. Air Force 25th and 36th Fighter Squadrons at Osan Air Base and tweeted them a message:

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