French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly and British Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson made the announcement while speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday. It remains to be seen if that invitation will stand after this conference.
The, a state backed Chinese tabloid that does not reflect official policy, said in an editorial on Thursday that China must prepare to forcefully respond to any "extreme" U.S. interference in the South China Sea. He also asserted the islands belong to China and that Beijing is simply acting to defend the country's sovereignty. Mattis responded by saying there is a "fundamental disconnect" between China's views on the waters and how worldwide tribunals view them.
With global attention fixated on fraught U.S.
Mattis only briefly mentioned the status of the Korean Peninsula in his formal remarks, which come just hours after US President Donald Trump announced that he will hold a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12, just days after Mattis departs.
There are now about 28,500 USA troops based in South Korea.More news: Ruthless Nadal breezes into last 16
The Pentagon is planning to step up its program of so-called freedom-of-navigation operations close to Chinese installations on disputed reefs, two US officials and Western and Asian diplomats close to discussions told Reuters.
Despite strong mutual suspicions, the United States had included China in the past two versions of the naval exercise known as Rim of the Pacific, or RimPac, in 2014 and 2016.
"I believe there are much larger consequences in the future, when nations lose the rapport of their neighbours", Mattis said after his speech in response to a question from the media.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis delivers his speech during the first plenary session of the 17th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-la Dialogue, an annual defense and security forum in Asia, in Singapore, Saturday, June 2, 2018, in Singapore.
Speaking just 10 days before President Donald Trump is due to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mattis also said the USA military continues to support diplomats pushing for the "complete, verifiable and irreversible" denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. He Lei was quoted by AFP as saying that "Any irresponsible comments from other countries can not be accepted". China protested the maneuver. "Our Indo-Pacific strategy informs our relationship with China".More news: China warns USA no deal if tariffs go ahead
A study by Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) found previous year that China had built military length airstrips on the previously uninhabited Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratlys.
China's delegation at the conference is being led by Lt. Gen.
The head of the Chinese delegation, He Lei, who is the Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People's Liberation Army's vice president, took an equally tough line by saying that the USA is the real source of conflict in the region.
But Mr Mattis also said the U.S. welcomed cooperation with China "wherever possible", and announced that he had accepted Beijing's invitation to visit soon.
"If the diplomats can do their work, if we can reduce the threat, if we can restore confidence building measures with something verifiable, then of course these kinds of issues can come up subsequently between two sovereign democracies, the Republic of Korea and the United States", Mattis said.More news: NBC News’ ‘Today’ Show Grills Bill Clinton About Monica Lewinsky Affair