Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Wednesday expressed his thanks to Vietnamese officials for their country's support of sanctions against North Korea.
Traveling to Vietnam from Jakarta, Indonesia, Mattis told reporters he appreciated Vietnam's willingness to go along with economic sanctions on Kim Jon Un's regime, according to a Defense Department release.
"We appreciate the leadership on that leading by example and stepping up," Mattis said.
North Korea has faced various international sanctions regarding the country's development of nuclear weapons technology. Vietnam has lost trade with North Korea due to the sanctions but intends to continue complying with them.
"They have been supporting the United Nations sanctions at some cost to them," Mattis said.
Mattis said that he wanted to thank Vietnamese leaders for their support of the sanctions.
During his trip to Vietnam, Mattis will join U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel J. Kritenbrink to tour the U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which is frequently active in the country searching for the remains of missing service members. More than 1,600 American service members are believed to be still missing from the Vietnam War, according to the department.
Mattis will also discuss the issue of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea with Vietnamese officials.
"Freedom of navigation and access in the South China Sea will be critical to them economically, of course, and their security efforts," Mattis said.