US, South Korea defense chiefs discuss boosting alliance

Seoul, Dec 2:The South Korean and US defense chiefs met Thursday for their annual talks, as Washington pushes to reinforce alliances with its partners to curb mounting challenges from China and increasing North Korean nuclear threats.
After the talks, the allies were expected to announce a boosting of their decades-long military alliance while US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will likely reaffirm America’s extended deterrence to South Korea using its full range of military capabilities.
But it was unclear how much Seoul would do to ease historical tensions with Japan, another key US regional ally, and whether it would play a greater regional security role beyond the Korean Peninsula amid opposition from China, some experts say.
“The US-ROK Alliance is the linchpin of peace and security in this region and we will work together as we move toward a #FreeandOpenIndoPacific,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tweeted upon arrival in South Korea on Wednesday, referring to a regional initiative aimed at countering China’s growing assertiveness in the region.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon released the results of a global posture review that directs additional cooperation with allies and partners to deter “potential Chinese military aggression and threats from North Korea.” The review also informed Austin’s approval of the permanent stationing of a previously rotational attack helicopter squadron and artillery division headquarters in South Korea.
South Korean defense officials called the contents of the review a sign that both Seoul and Washington highly value the alliance.
Austin’s meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook is the first between the two countries’ defense ministers since President Joe Biden took office in January. (AGENCIES)