US diplomat: Alliance with Seoul ‘stronger than ever’

Seoul, 13 (EFE).- US Asia Pacific State Vice Secretary Daniel Kritenbrink said Tuesday at the end of a meeting in Seoul with South Korean counterpart Choi Yong-sam that the alliance between Seoul and Washington “is stronger than ever” at a time marked by renewed tensions with North Korea.

“I have just had a couple of great meetings with my Korean counterparts and we have been able, once again, to reaffirm the strength of our alliance, which I really believe is stronger than ever,” Kritenbrink said in statements collected by the Yonhap news agency.

The diplomat said he would hold other meetings with South Korean officials, but declined to share further details.

Kritenbrink also said the US is “absolutely invested” in the alliance with South Korea at a time when Washington is fulfilling its promise to execute the so-called “extended deterrence,” which consists of deploying its strategic assets in the peninsula whenever Pyongyang conducts major weapons tests.

Kritenbrink’s words are especially important after North Korea responded in November to maneuvers by the two allies by launching some 30 missiles – a record number – and shortly after launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, to which the The Pentagon responded by sending in F-35B fighters and B-1 bombers.

The visit also comes amid speculation about the possibility of the North Korean regime carrying out a nuclear test, an action to which the allies have promised to respond forcefully at a time when surveys reflect a growing interest by South Koreans in developing their own nuclear weapons. EFE


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