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S. Korea, U.S. hold key high

Korean Vice Defense Minister Shin Beom-chul,<strong></strong> left, ooks at a B-52 strategic bomber at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, D.C., on Sept. 15, in this photo released by Seoul's defense ministry. Yonhap
Korean Vice Defense Minister Shin Beom-chul, left, ooks at a B-52 strategic bomber at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, D.C., on Sept. 15, in this photo released by Seoul's defense ministry. Yonhap

A key high-level deterrence dialogue of South Korea and the United States opened in Washington, D.C., on Friday, following a nearly five-year hiatus, in a culmination of their accelerating joint efforts to counter North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats.

The Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG), a gathering of the allies' vice-ministerial defense officials and diplomats, took place at the State Department amid concerns about the possibility of Pyongyang carrying out a nuclear test or other provocative acts.

The EDSCG had not been held since its second and last session in January 2018, when the then liberal Moon Jae-in administration pushed for an initiative to promote inter-Korean rapprochement and cooperation.

Seoul's vice defense and foreign ministers ― Shin Beom-chul and Cho Hyun-dong, respectively ― attended the session, with the U.S. represented by Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, and Bonnie Jenkins, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

The high-profile event came a week after the North revealed its codification of an assertive nuclear policy that leaves open the possibility of a preemptive strike to be unleashed in case of a regime security threat.

The EDSCG is meant to discuss ways to enhance the credibility of America's extended deterrence, its stated commitment to mobilizing a full range of military capabilities, including nuclear options to defend its ally.

In an interview with Yonhap News Agency earlier this week, Seoul's Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said the EDSCG gathering would touch on a raft of issues, such as the sharing of intelligence, crisis-period communication, allied defense exercises and the deployment of U.S. strategic military assets.

The reactivation of the EDSCG followed a Seoul summit deal in May between South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden. The two leaders reaffirmed "the commitment of the U.S. to deploy strategic U.S. military assets in a timely and coordinated manner as necessary, as well as to enhance such measures and identify new or additional steps to reinforce deterrence in the face of DPRK destabilizing activities," the allies' joint statement read, using the acronym for North Korea's official name, Democratic People's Republic of Korea. (Yonhap)





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