S. Korea, U.S. seeking defense chiefs' meeting at early date

South Korea and the United States are seeking to hold a meeting of their defense ministers at an early date to discuss North Korea's evolving missile threats, government officials said Monday.

This photo taken on July 31, 2017, shows South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo speaking to lawmakers over North Korea's missile threats. (Yonhap)

This photo taken on July 31, 2017, shows South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo speaking to lawmakers over North Korea's missile threats. (Yonhap)

The two sides are pushing for the first meeting between Defense Minister Song Myoung-moo and his U.S. counterpart Jim Mattis before the allies' annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) slated for October, Seoul's defense ministry said.

Song, a former Navy chief of staff, took office this month as South Korea's defense chief.

The meeting will come as North Korea launched a second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in less than a month on Friday, claiming that the whole U.S. mainland is within its striking range.

The envisioned meeting is likely to focus on curbing North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and issues between the two allies, including a revision of a ballistic missile guideline and a U.S. missile defense system, it said.

The ministry said that ways to strengthen Washington's implementation of extended deterrence will likely be discussed with the Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD) slated for September and the SCM to be held in Seoul the following month.

It said that it would consult with Washington over the deployment of U.S. strategic military assets on a regular basis.

The previous government of ousted President Park Geun-hye discussed with Washington whether the U.S. will send strategic assets to the South on a rotational basis. However, the allies failed to reach an agreement over the deployment at the SCM held in October 2016.

Instead, they agreed to review it at a meeting of the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG), joint defense cooperation talks which were first held in December last year.

The U.S. has periodically sent strategic assets to South Korea including B-1B bombers as a show of force when North Korea's provocative acts heightened, source from the Yonhap.


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