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S. Korea, U.S. on same footing about THAAD: S. Korean defense minister

All News 18:10 June 03, 2016

By Park Boram

SINGAPORE, June 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States have a shared understanding on the issue of deploying a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system against North Korea's missile threats, South Korea's defense chief said Friday, although he also confirmed that the issue will not be discussed at the annual "Shangri-La Dialogue" meeting this week.

"I don't think (the two countries') stances are mismatched at all," Defense Minister Han Min-koo said in a brief press meeting on the sidelines of the Asia Security Summit which opened its three-day run in Singapore earlier in the day.

U.S. reports have earlier quoted U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter saying that the deployment issue would come up during his bilateral talks with Han, which are scheduled for Saturday.

Following North Korea's defiant nuclear test in January and the following long-range missile launch in February, the allies announced a plan to explore the deployment of the sophisticated defense shield against North Korea's ever-increasing ballistic missile threats.

A joint working group was launched in early March and has been working to map out the U.S.-proposed deployment, including the date and location of the possible deployment.

"Currently, the joint South Korea-U.S. working group is carefully carrying out their discussion," Han said.

A THAAD deployment would take place through a process in which both governments adopt a recommendation made by the joint working group, he said. "Regarding this process and procedure, South Korea and the U.S. have the same understanding."

The defense minister said the THAAD deployment "will not be part of the agenda for the (scheduled) South Korea-U.S. defense ministers' talks."

"Because there's (still) the process left for us (ministers) to take over what the joint working group is doing and make a final decision, now is not the time to discuss it," he noted.


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