The United States and South Korea pledged to enhance their combined deterrence posture and keep up joint military exercises, despite Pyongyang’s criticism of the drills, the two countries said in a joint statement after high-level talks on Thursday.
The statement came at the conclusion of the so-called 2+2 talks between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their South Korean counterparts, Chung Eui-yong and Suh Wook in Seoul.
“US officials reaffirmed the US commitment to the defense of the ROK and its extended deterrence using the full range of US capabilities. Both sides committed to strengthening the Alliance deterrence posture, and they reiterated the importance of maintaining joint readiness against all shared threats to the Alliance through combined training and exercises,” the statement said.
On Tuesday, Kim Yo Jong, a senior official and sister of North Korea’s leader, condemned the joint US-South Korean military drills as running contrary to Seoul’s rapprochement efforts and warned Washington not to meddle “if it wants to sleep in peace for coming four years.”
The joint statement said the US and South Korean ministers agreed that American troops in South Korea will continue to play a crucial role in peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region. The two sides committed to ensuring that they have the force posture and capabilities needed to meet common challenges.
The participants of the meeting underscored that North Korea remains a priority for the alliance, and pledged to maintain high-level talks as the Biden administration conducts an ongoing review of US policy on the peninsula.
The two nations also committed to expand collaboration in various areas including trade, health, non-proliferation, nuclear energy, COVID-19, combatting the climate crisis, space, and cybersecurity, according to the statement.