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Republic of Korea, United States work “to take the ROK-US alliance to the next level”

During the ROK-US defense ministers’ meeting:
Minister Suh and his US counterpart Austin reaffirmed need to maintain an ironclad combined defense posture
Ministers shared opinions on various security issues in the region
On March 18, the two ministers will attend the ROK-US foreign and defense ministers’ meeting (2+2 meeting)

Republic of Korea, United States work “to take the

Minister of National Defense Suh Wook and his United States (US) counterpart Lloyd Austin discussed the way to move towards a complementary, forward-looking global alliance, while reaffirming the firm alliance between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and US during their first meeting held in the main building of the ministry, located in Yongsan, Seoul, on March 17.

During the ROK-US defense ministers’ meeting, the two ministers shared their opinions on various alliance-related issues, assessing the security situation in the region, including on the Korean Peninsula. Significantly, the Wednesday meeting had great significance, in that it was the first face-to-face meeting since the Biden administration was inaugurated and Austin took office. The two ministers also were able to reaffirm a strong willingness to maintain the ironclad combined defense posture between the two countries, as well as the US’s commitment to defending the ROK.

“I hope this meeting will contribute greatly to taking the bilateral alliance to the next level, by building firm trust between the defense ministries of our two countries,” Suh said in his opening statement, stressing that “Austin’s early visit to Korea shows that the Biden administration places a high value on the ROK-US alliance.” Significantly, Suh emphasized the importance of maintaining “strong deterrence against North Korea and the combined defense posture” in the process of developing the bilateral alliance, and defined the keys to the development of the ROK-US alliance as ‘trust and cooperation.’

On March 18, Suh and Austin will also attend a meeting of the foreign and defense ministers of the ROK and US (2+2 meeting), to be held in the main building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in order to closely coordinate on the main issues, including alliance issues and the direction of alliance development, Korean Peninsula issues including North Korea’s nuclear program, and the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON).

After the meeting, the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries will announce a joint statement of the results of the meeting at a press conference. On the sidelines of the 2+2 meeting, a tentative signing ceremony of the ROK-US special measures agreement (SMA) will be held with the participation of Jeong Eun-bo, ROK’s top SMA negotiator, and Robert Lapson, deputy chief of the US ambassador to the ROK.

After the 2+2 meeting, President Moon Jae-in will be briefed on the main outcomes, including the results of the 2+2 meeting, at a meeting with the two US ministers, Austin and Blinken. “President Moon is expected to praise the hard work of the two ministers for the development of the ROK-US alliance at the meeting. Having had face-to-face talks with the two ministers, Director of National Security Suh Hoon will also exchange opinions on the ROK-US alliance and the pending issues in the region,” a spokesperson of Cheong Wa Dae said.

By Su-Yeol, Maeng < >

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