The Expanded Deterrence Strategy and Consultative Group (EDSCG), comprising deputy defense and diplomatic officials from the two allies, will meet in Washington on Friday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
It was the group’s first meeting since 2018, when Washington and Seoul launched high-profile efforts to engage North Korea diplomatically.
Those efforts soon stalled, and this year North Korea has tested a record number of missiles since 2017, including its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, has pledged to increase his country’s military capabilities and strengthen what he calls “comprehensive deterrence,” which refers to the capability of the U.S. military, particularly its nuclear weapons. forces, to prevent attacks on US allies.
The EDSCG intends to “hold in-depth discussions on comprehensive measures to deter North Korea, including measures to improve the effectiveness of comprehensive deterrence in light of the severe security situation on the Korean Peninsula,” the ministry said in a statement.
Yun asked US President Joe Biden to permanently station US “strategic assets” such as submarines, aircraft carriers and bombers on the Korean Peninsula.
The US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is scheduled to sail to the South Korean port city of Busan this month to conduct exercises with South Korean forces on the peninsula for the first time since 2017, Yonhap news agency reported.
Doubts have been raised about America’s commitment to protecting South Korea under former US President Donald Trump, who has demanded more billions from Seoul to support US troops and has reportedly talked about their withdrawal.
The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the debate over aid to Ukraine have fueled discussions about South Korea’s need to increase its own capabilities, including whether to pursue its own nuclear program.
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