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Carter expects to discuss THAAD with S. Korean defense chief

All News 03:38 June 03, 2016

WASHINGTON, June 2 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he expects the issue of the THAAD missile defense system to come up when he meets with his South Korean counterpart in Singapore later this week.

Carter made the remark en route to the Southeast Asian nation for the annual "Shangri-La Dialogue" meeting of regional defense ministers set to open Friday. Carter is scheduled to meet one-on-one with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo on its sidelines.

"I will see my colleague, Defense Minister Han. I'm sure that topic will come up," Carter told reporters in response to a question whether he will discuss THAAD during the trip, according to a transcript provided by the Defense Department.

"It's not something we need to discuss much, because ... the plans are moving forward. This is an alliance decision, a decision of the United States and the Republic of Korea, which is about protecting us both from a North Korean missile attack," he said.

"It's an alliance decision, a decision we took together. The implementation of it will be a series of decisions that we take together, and it's for our own protection against North Korea, and everybody should understand that," Carter said.

South Korea and the U.S. have been in talks about the potential deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea in an effort to better defend against growing missile threats from the North.

China has strongly opposed the possible THAAD deployment, claiming the system, especially its radar, could be used against it, despite repeated U.S. assurances that it is only aimed at defending against threats from North Korea.

A senior U.S. defense official was quoted by Reuters as saying that there are still "a lot of technical issues to get through" in the talks, but added, "we will have a public announcement soon."

"We are in the process of continuing our discussions on deployment and we will have an announcement when we're ready," the official was quoted as saying, speaking on condition of anonymity.

It was not clear whether the remarks mean the sides are close to a decision on deployment.

Comment from Pentagon officials was not immediately available.

Meanwhile, Carter said that the North's latest missile test, even though it failed, is "provocative" and "destabilizing."

"It's contrary to the United Nations Security Council resolutions, which call on North Korea not to carry out such ballistic missile activities," he said. "Whatever the outcome ... everybody else in the region, and for that matter, most of the world continues to be concerned about North Korean missile activity."

jschang@yna.co.kr
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