U.S., S. Korean Defense Chiefs Reaffirm Cooperation with Japan


Washington, Nov. 3 (Jiji Press)--The defense chiefs of the United States and South Korea agreed Thursday to beef up their countries' military cooperation and surveillance activities in response to nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, while affirming their intentions to collaborate further with Japan.

On the Korean Peninsula, "we're returning to large-scale exercises to strengthen our combined readiness and our ability to fight tonight, if necessary," U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at a joint press conference with South Korean National Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup, held after their meeting in a Washington suburb.

Austin strongly condemned North Korea's recent launches of a number of missiles including an intercontinental ballistic missile as "irresponsible and reckless activities."

In order to strengthen the deterrence against North Korea, the United States is ready to employ its strategic assets to the level equivalent to constant deployment through increasing the frequency and intensity of such deployment in and around the peninsula, the Pentagon chief also said. Strategic assets refer to very powerful weapons such as cutting-edge fighter jets, strategic bombers and aircraft carriers.

Austin and Lee agreed to restart working-level defense talks among the United States, South Korea and Japan early next year. They also confirmed that the three countries will advance not only defense policy talks but also information-sharing, defense exercises and personnel exchanges.

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Jiji Press