US, S Korea to 'strengthen' defences against N Korea

People at a railway station in Seoul watch a television news report showing file footage of North Korea's missile launch. (Jung Yeon-Je, AFP)
People at a railway station in Seoul watch a television news report showing file footage of North Korea's missile launch. (Jung Yeon-Je, AFP)

Washington - US President Donald Trump and South Korea's Acting President Hwang Kyo-Ahn vowed on Sunday to "strengthen" their joint defence capabilities against the belligerent North, the White House said.

"President Trump reiterated our ironclad commitment to defend the ROK, including through the provision of extended deterrence, using the full range of military capabilities," the White House said in a statement, using an acronym for the South's formal name.

"The two leaders agreed to take steps to strengthen joint defence capabilities to defend against the North Korean threat."

Pentagon chief James Mattis is due to travel to South Korea on Wednesday and Japan on Friday on his first trip as defence secretary.

Mixed reactions

The trip comes amid worries in the two long-standing American allies about the direction of US policy in their region under President Donald Trump.

During his campaign, Trump threatened to withdraw US forces from the two countries if they did not step up their financial support for their defence.

But the White House insisted that the trip "reflects the close friendship between our two countries and demonstrates the importance of the US-ROK alliance."

Seoul and Washington agreed last year to install the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in the South after a string of North Korean nuclear and missile tests - prompting strong objections from China, which fears it will undermine its own ballistic capabilities.

Earlier this month, Hwang warned that North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities are accelerating at an "unprecedented" pace, as he called for the "swift" deployment of the anti-missile system.

Within South Korea, voices opposing the THAAD installation have grown louder, with some opposition candidates pledging to scrap the agreement if they win a presidential election due this year.

The plan has also angered Beijing, which has imposed a string of measures seen in the South as economic retaliation, including effectively barring K-pop stars from performing on the mainland and not authorising South Korean airlines to operate charter flights between the countries.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When planning for the Black Friday sales do you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Save, research and plan ahead, preparing to make the most of it?
7% - 990 votes
Wait and see what looks like a good deal on the day?
14% - 1878 votes
Have no interest in spending more money this year?
79% - 10552 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.20
(-0.63)
ZAR/GBP
20.32
(-0.45)
ZAR/EUR
18.12
(-0.61)
ZAR/AUD
11.20
(-0.65)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(-0.78)
Gold
1809.97
(+0.12)
Silver
23.29
(-0.15)
Platinum
963.00
(+0.40)
Brent Crude
48.73
(+1.57)
Palladium
2368.48
(+2.46)
All Share
57923.69
(+0.31)
Top 40
53084.13
(+0.27)
Financial 15
11645.28
(+0.04)
Industrial 25
79993.34
(+0.20)
Resource 10
52790.93
(+0.35)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo