Mattis Promises to 'Hold the Line' on North Korea

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Legal experts consulted by Reuters said a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions seems to have occurred and could trigger further sanctions by the United States, which has complained Russian Federation is not doing enough to apply pressure against North Korea. An advance team of South Korean officials recently visited the resort to prepare for joint skiing training ahead of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Morgulov also said Russian Federation would not expel North Korean citizens who are subject to US sanctions, and the USA special representative for North Korea had been invited to visit Moscow, RIA reported.

Mattis made the remarks Friday during a photo session with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo at US Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii a day after Seoul's top diplomat said a military solution would not be acceptable.

The statement coincided with plans by Winter Olympics host South Korea to take part in joint sporting and cultural events in the area.

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On whether K-pop artists would join the event, the official only said they are considering showcasing South Korean "contemporary music".

And just two days before the Winter Games kick off, the rest of the North Korean Olympic participants are due to arrive in South Korea, including a 230-member cheering squad and a 30-member Taekwondo demonstrators.

The exchange came a day after South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said the standoff over North Korea's nuclear program must be resolved diplomatically, and added that she was certain Washington would consult her government first if a military option were to be considered.

"Diplomacy should repose reason on Kim's reckless rhetoric and unsafe provocations", he said.

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The planned war games cast a shadow over hopes that the recent détente between the two Koreas may lead to a broader dialogue with the United States after months of saber rattling over the North's nuclear weapons program.

A European security source said: 'Russia's port of Nakhodka is becoming a transhipping hub for North Korean coal'.

While the Moon administration and that of U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed not to carry out joint military drills during the Pyeongchang Games, Washington appears ready to restart them to place pressure on Pyongyang once the Paralympics end on March 18. But the statement was also confirmed by United States intelligence data.

While the UN's tough new measures are unlikely to have been the main driver of the recent de-escalation, now that the North is talking, the United States should suspend talk of military intervention and consider focusing on sanctions deals, such as the nuclear deal with Iran, as a means of drawing concessions from Pyongyang, however small.

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