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US, South Korean defence chiefs vow extra drills to counter North

SEOUL: US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met his counterpart in Seoul on Tuesday (Jan 31), pledging to beef up joint drills and safety cooperation as South Korea seeks nuclear reassurances within the face of rising North Korean threats.

Seoul is keen to persuade its more and more nervous public of America’s so-called prolonged deterrence commitments, after a 12 months by which North Korea declared itself an “irreversible” nuclear energy and performed a banned weapons take a look at nearly each month.

Austin and South Korean Protection Minister Lee Jong-sup agreed to “broaden and bolster the extent and scale” of joint army workout routines, in gentle of “continued provocations” from Pyongyang, together with a latest drone incursion, they stated in an announcement.

Navy tensions on the Korean peninsula intensified sharply in 2022 because the North performed a record-breaking variety of weapons checks, together with firing its most superior intercontinental ballistic missile.

Pyongyang despatched 5 drones throughout the border on Dec 26, the primary such incident in 5 years, prompting Seoul to scramble warplanes.

Austin and Lee agreed to “additional broaden and strengthen the size and stage of mixed workout routines and drills this 12 months”, Lee stated at a press briefing in Seoul.

This was essential attributable to “modifications within the safety surroundings, together with North Korea’s latest makes an attempt to improve its nuclear and missile programmes”, he stated.

The 2 safety allies will conduct a “tabletop train” in February to enhance communication on “deterrence and response choices” to Pyongyang’s nuclear threats.

“We’ll do quite a lot of tabletop workout routines to make sure that we’re seeing issues eye to eye,” Austin stated on the briefing.

Any joint US-South Korean army workout routines infuriate Pyongyang, which views them as a rehearsal for an invasion and has usually responded with threats and drills of its personal.

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