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Japan, France welcome US leadership in the Asia-Pacific

Japan, France welcome US leadership in the Asia-Pacific

Calling North Korea's nuclear ambitions a "threat to us all", Mattis said the global community must work together.

In his speech, Mattis acknowledged the hard diplomacy involved in getting China to act against North Korea, a longtime trade partner that shares a border.

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Touching on relations with China, Mattis reiterated that the United States seeks a constructive, results-oriented relationship, believing that it can "engage China diplomatically and economically to ensure our relationship is beneficial not only to the United States and China, but also to the region and to the world".

SINGAPORE (AP) — Glossing over disagreements, the defense chiefs from Japan and France on Saturday welcomed USA leadership in the Asia-Pacific to manage the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and maintain regional peace.

The defense chief spoke directly to concerns that the USA might grant concessions to China to ensure its cooperation on North Korea, saying the issue was not "binary" and that the U.S. would continue to pressure Beijing elsewhere.

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China claims nearly the whole of this strategic maritime space where, during the past few years, it has built facilities on artificial islands that could be of military use, leading to mounting tension in the region.

Mattis said the United States commitment to defend longtime allies South Korea and Japan from any North Korean military threat was "ironclad".

The Pentagon says it supports "in principle" a proposal by Senator John McCain, the head of the U.S. Senate's Armed Services Committee, to increase military funding for the Asia-Pacific by $7.5 billion.

Pyongyang has launched several more ballistic missiles since then, including a short-range missile on Monday that landed in the sea off its east coast.

As tensions have increased between Pyongyang and Washington, the USA has been pressing China to rein in Kim Jong Un's nuclear programme.

Mr. Mattis said Washington oppose countries militarising artificial islands and enforcing excessive maritime claims.

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The programs have become a security priority given Pyongyang's vow to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

The UN security council unanimously passed a resolution with new sanctions against North Korea Friday after the regime launched its ninth ballistic missile test of the year.

With regional leaders seeking how to square US President Donald Trump's "America First" doctrine with a US leadership role in the region, Mattis strongly reaffirmed US commitment to its alliances. "We consider it urgent", he added.

"Such a risky act is a sign that their (U.S.) preparations for unleashing a nuclear war against the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] have reached the final phase", a spokesman for North Korea's Strategic Force told the country's official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA).

While she said the USA wants a negotiated solution to the North's nuclear programme and isn't seeking regime change, she reiterated "all options for responding to future provocations remain on the table".

Mattis's speech touched off a furious reaction from Chinese military delegates attending the summit, reports said.

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