Challenge to Seoul or Washington is challenge to alliance: Austin

Seoul, Jan 31 (EFE).- A challenge to either South Korea or the United States by an adversary would mean a challenge to both allies, the US’ defense secretary warned on Tuesday.

In an exclusive article for Yonhap news agency, titled “The Alliance Stands Ready,” Lloyd Austin said the combined capabilities of the US-South Korea alliance was underpinned by an “ironclad US extended deterrence commitment” to Seoul including “US conventional, nuclear, and missile-defense capabilities, as well as the forward presence of 28,500 US uniformed personnel.”

“So our adversaries and competitors know that if they challenge one of us, they are challenging the US-ROK alliance as a whole,” Austin wrote, using an acronym for South Korea’s official name the Republic of Korea.

“I am also here to reaffirm that the US extended deterrence commitment to the ROK is ironclad,” he added, while on his visit to Seoul.

The defense secretary also called on allies to “remain vigilant” amid North Korea’s development of nuclear, ballistic-missile, and other weapons programs.

On Friday, Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, condemned the US announcement that it would ship 31 M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, saying Washington was “crossing the red line.”

Later Tuesday, Austin is to meet with his South Korean counterpart Lee Jong-sup with whom he plans to discuss deterrence strategies against North Korea, as well as to continue planning a joint exercise to be held in the US next month.

“We are also modernizing our alliance to ensure our two countries can continue to contribute to sustaining a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific, including further discussions on helping our partners in Southeast Asia build their own capabilities,” the defense secretary concluded. EFE


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