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N Korea at crossroads

Mattis vows to keep US troop levels in South Korea

Defense secretary reiterates 'ironclad' commitment despite joint drill suspension

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis speaks before a meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo in Seoul on June 28.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis promised Thursday to keep American troop levels in South Korea, reaffirming Washington's "ironclad" commitment to Seoul, amid rising security concerns after both countries suspended joint military drills last week.

Mattis also confirmed that U.S. diplomats are working to achieve North Korea's "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization," a critical condition laid down by Washington in its negotiations with Pyongyang, often referred to as its abbreviated form of CVID.

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