S. Korea, US agree to expand, bolster level, scale of joint exercises
The United States and South Korea intend to expand the scope of their joint military exercises.
In a joint statement issued by the countries' defense chiefs on Tuesday, South Korea and the United States have agreed to increase the level and scale of their joint exercises this year.
South Korean Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-sup and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met on Tuesday for the first time this year in Seoul. The countries will commemorate the 70th anniversary of their alliance in 2023.
The joint statement released by the Pentagon read that "the two leaders also pledged to further expand and bolster the level and scale of this year's combined exercises and training."
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The defense chiefs also agreed on the importance of taking into account changes in the security environment, hinting at the DPRK's responses to their past military drills and US movement in the region.
Furthermore, Lee and Austin stated their intention to work closely together on the deployment of US strategic weapons on the Korean Peninsula.
The United States is committed to meeting its obligations to contain North Korea by using all military means available, including the country's nuclear capabilities, Austin further said on Tuesday.
"The United States stands firm in its extended deterrence commitment. That includes the full range of US defense capabilities, including our conventional, nuclear, and missile defense capabilities," he said.
North Korea conducted dozens of missile tests in 2022, sometimes firing multiple missiles at once. It launched more than 20 short-range missiles on November 2. North Korea's military activities, according to Pyongyang, are in response to provocations by the United States, South Korea, and Japan.
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