US defense chief stresses peace on Korean DMZ trip

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis on Friday called on North Korea to stop threatening other nations with "catastrophe."

Speaking from the Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas, Mattis insisted that the U.S. wants a peaceful resolution to a nuclear standoff that has intensified in recent weeks following the North's sixth-ever nuke test at the start of September.

Mattis' message differed from the tone of U.S. President Donald Trump ahead of his visit to the South next month, who has warned he is ready to "totally destroy" North Korea.

"Our goal is not war but rather the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Mattis said in a statement carried by Yonhap News Agency.

However, his South Korean counterpart Song Young-moo added that a North Korean attack would be met with "retaliation by the strong combined force of South Korea and the U.S."

Washington has nearly 30,000 troops on the Korean Peninsula -- a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war that ended in a stalemate.