US, South Korea pledge to strengthen defences

2015-11-02 13:25
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Seoul - The US and South Korea are pledging to strengthen their combined defences against what they call threats by North Korea, but they announced no specific new steps toward a long-delayed transfer of wartime control of South Korean forces from the US military to the South Korean government.

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter called North Korea an "up-close, dangerous and continuing threat".

Carter appeared at a news conference with his South Korean counterpart, Han Min-koo, who said his country would not tolerate further military provocations by the North.

In a joint written statement issued after closed-door meetings, they condemned North Korea's recent suggestion that it intends to conduct a long-range missile launch or nuclear test.

Of particular worry in South Korea is the North's nuclear arsenal, which may be expanding in defiance of international efforts to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, which could pose a threat not only to the South but also to Japan and others.

"In the face of increasing threats, especially in the form of nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, we also agreed that the alliance needs to work in various ways to cooperate and to rise against and respond against these threats," the South Korean defence minister, Han, said at the outset of annual security consultations.

Carter said the alliance "has never been stronger", and he called the American commitment to South Korea "iron-clad".

Also participating in the Seoul talks were the new chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joseph Dunford, and the commander of US Pacific Command, Administrator Harry Harris.

Dunford also was planning to visit the heavily guarded buffer zone separating North and South Korea. Harris was scheduled to fly to Beijing for his first visit to China as commander of Pacific forces.

Read more on:    south korea  |  us

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