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Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, left, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and Defense Under Secretary and Chief Financial Office David Norquist, listen to a question as they testify at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the FY'18 defense budget, on Capitol Hill, Monday, June 12, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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The Latest: Mattis says North Korea is most urgent threat

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, left, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and Defense Under Secretary and Chief Financial Office David Norquist, listen to a question as they testify at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the FY'18 defense budget, on Capitol Hill, Monday, June 12, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ testimony before a House oversight panel (all times EDT):

9:30 p.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says North Korea is the most urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security in the world.

Mattis tells a congressional panel that Pyongyang’s “continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them has increased in pace and scope.” He calls the country’s programs to build weapons of mass destruction “a clear and present danger to all.”

Top U.S. military officials have warned that it’s a question of when, not if, Pyongyang successfully builds a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the U.S.

North Korea is a politically and economically isolated nation whose leaders have long viewed the United States as a military threat, in part because of periodic U.S. military exercises with South Korea.

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9:05 p.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he doesn’t see any indication that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants a positive relationship with the United States.

Mattis says, “Mr. Putin has chosen to be a strategic competitor.” The Pentagon chief made the comments in testimony Monday before the House Armed Services Committee.

Mattis has been one of Russia’s most vocal critics even as President Donald Trump has sought to bridge the differences between the two countries and tackle common problems, such as counterterrorism.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the U.S. has an “adversarial relationship with Russia.” He’s appearing before the committee with Mattis.

Congress is considering slapping Russia with more sanctions in retaliation for Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

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8:45 p.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he was “shocked” upon his return to the Pentagon by the poor state of the U.S. military’s readiness for combat.

The retired Marine Corps general puts most of the blame on Congress for its inability to approve budgets on time or repeal a law that strictly limits defense spending.

Mattis made his comments Monday night in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee.

Mattis says Congress has “sidelined itself from its active constitutional oversight role” by failing to deliver a steady stream of funding to pay for new weapons and other critical gear.

The Pentagon chief is also pressing for another round of military base closings, something Congress previously has rejected as lawmakers look to protect bases in their districts.

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7:15 p.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is calling on Congress to allow the military services to shutter excess bases.

He’s telling the House Armed Services Committee that the Defense Department wants to start a new round of base closings in 2021.

Mattis says the department “currently has more infrastructure capacity than required for operations.” He says that outlook won’t change even if the service branches grow in size.

The GOP-led Congress rebuffed the Obama administration’s requests to reduce the number of military bases even though senior U.S. defense officials said there was excess capacity.

The Army and Air Force said paring excess infrastructure would save billions of dollars that could be used for other purposes. But lawmakers have refused to go along. Military installations are prized possessions in congressional districts.

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2:50 p.m.

The Pentagon’s top leaders are set to testify before a congressional panel on the military’s budget, but the session is likely to veer into questions about Russia, Qatar’s alleged support for terrorism, the Syrian civil war and other thorny subjects.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were scheduled to appear Monday evening before the House Armed Services Committee.

Lawmakers have been considering slapping Russia with more sanctions in retaliation for Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Mattis has been one of Russia’s most vocal critics.

President Donald Trump has proposed a defense budget for the 2018 budget year of $639 billion, including $65 billion for ongoing military operations. Republican lawmakers are pressing for billions more in defense spending.

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