Oct. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in Seoul on Friday that if the United States and its allies want peace, they must also prepare for war.
Mattis, who is in South Korea for the annual U.S.-South Korea Security Consultative Meeting, made the remarks at a dinner celebrating the alliance and after visiting the demilitarized zone, Yonhap reported.
The defense secretary, who made his first South Korea visit in the early '70s, said the alliance was built to preserve freedom.
Without the alliance, it would be impossible for the United States or South Korea to respond to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, Mattis said.
Mattis' South Korea counterpart Song Young-moo credited the partnership between the United States and South Korea for defeating the spread of communism during the Cold War and for deterring North Korea at a critical point in time.
"The alliance must play a more important role for regional and global peace and stability," Song said.
Earlier in the day Mattis met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Moon said the deployment of U.S. strategic assets to the peninsula is a "very strong and effective deterrent against the North's provocations."
"The United States and South Korea have a common goal of stopping provocations and encouraging North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons," Moon said. "We are working with the international community more closely than ever before."
Mattis told Moon he was very moved by his visit to the joint security area in the DMZ and said, "Trust, trust and trust" provide the foundation for the alliance, Yonhap reported.
Mattis also met with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa on Friday, according to local news service EDaily.
The two discussed North Korea's nuclear provocations, the alliance, and U.S. President Donald Trump's upcoming visit to Seoul.