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US Defence Secretary James Mattis, who is now touring North East Asia, warned North Korea yesterday that any attack on the United States and its allies would be defeated.

In the brief interview, he said he would be discussing the plan to install a new USA missile defence system, called Thaad, in South Korea as a means of deterring the North's ballistic missile threats against South Korean and Japan.

Mattis reaffirmed plans to deploy an advanced US missile defense system known as THAAD in South Korea.

"[Both] agreed to push ahead as scheduled to deploy the THAAD system of United States Forces Korea (USFK) within this year as a defense system only against North Korea's missile threats", the MND said in a written statement.

The US and South Korea yesterday reconfirmed their commitment to the planned deployment this year of a US missile defence system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad).

The two Asian countries were chosen as the destinations for the first overseas visit by a Trump Cabinet member and US Defense Secretary James Mattis gave Seoul and Tokyo exactly what they were looking for.

Once fully developed, a North Korean ICBM could threaten the continental U.S., which is about 9,000km from North Korea.

China and Russian Federation, however, firmly oppose the THAAD program, arguing the X-band radar threatens each country's national security.

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Han and Mattis lauded their first bilateral talk to demonstrate their "robust commitment" to the alliance, describing it as a "linchpin of peace and stability" in the region - a term that was also frequently used by the Barack Obama administration.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang yesterday reiterated China's opposition to Thaad, which he said would never change. Its comments have come after United States defence chief James Mattis reiterated his country's commitment to defend Japan's territories in the disputed islands "for years to come".

Mattis spent two days in South Korea prior to his visit to Japan.

For all the public reassurances, Mattis is likely to have discussed South Korea paying a greater share of the ongoing costs and restructuring of USA military bases.

He also praised South Korea - which has almost 30,000 United States troops stationed there - as a "lynchpin of peace and stability" in the Asia-Pacific region.

"The U.S. -Japan alliance is critical to ensuring that this region remains safe and secure - not just now, but for years to come", Mattis said during a joint news conference with Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Saturday. -South Korea alliance could reasonably be expected to win a war on the Korean peninsula, which would have massive political repercussions throughout the region, including China.

"The mutual defense of our nations is best served through teamwork", the defense secretary said, noting that today he and Han will discuss other ways to make sure "our militaries are always ready to protect this republic".