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U.S., S. Korea holds 'constant' discussions about THAAD: Pentagon spokesman

All Headlines 10:49 February 11, 2015

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- The United States holds constant discussions with South Korea about the THAAD missile defense system, the Pentagon press secretary said Tuesday.

"We all recognize the importance of the capability," Rear Adm. John Kirby said during a press briefing in response to a question about whether the U.S. has had any talks with South Korea about the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system.

"There's constant discussions and certainly with our South Korean allies about that. But I have no detail to provide, and certainly no announcements to make with respect to that," the spokesman said.

The remark appeared to run counter to what South Korean and U.S. officials have repeatedly said so far, that there have been no official consultations between the two countries about deploying a THAAD battery to South Korea.

But Lt. Col. Jeff Pool, a Pentagon press officer, said Kirby's comments are not different from previous positions as officials from the two sides have often talked informally to each other about the issue because, for example, there have been frequent press reports about it in South Korean media.

He stressed that there are no serious or official talks under way currently.

"It would be untruthful to say that we haven't informally discussed (it) because we already had a site survey in the ROK (South Korea) and Gen. Scaparrotti said that he wanted it," Pool said, referring to the commander of U.S. Forces Korea.

"Also, there are false stories regularly in ROK press about THAAD, so we must discuss with our counterparts," he said. "Unfortunately some news outlets will choose to distort what the spokesperson said and that will cause unnecessary concern and confusion regarding this important topic."

The possibility of the U.S. deploying a THAAD battery in South Korea has been the focus of attention in Seoul because such a deployment is seen by critics as part of a broader U.S. attempt to get the Asian ally to join its missile defense system.

The deployment could inflame tensions with China and Russia because they see the move as a threat to their security interests. The two countries have repeatedly expressed concern and opposition at such a possibility.


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