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THAAD to strengthen joint defense capabilities: allies

All News 18:35 July 14, 2016

SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) -- The upcoming deployment of an advanced antimissile system in the South will boost the joint defense capabilities of South Korea and the United States in response to North Korea's continued provocations, Seoul's foreign ministry on Thursday quoted the allies' senior diplomats as saying.

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken shared the view during a bilateral meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Wednesday (local time) ahead of trilateral talks with their Japanese counterpart Shinsuke Sugiyama.

The meeting came less than a week after the allies announced plans to place a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in South Korea to counter the growing threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

"They agreed that the deployment of THAAD will contribute to raising the joint defense capabilities of South Korea and the U.S.," the ministry said in a press release.

The decision came despite strong opposition from China and Russia, which view the system as a threat to their strategic security interests. South Korea and the U.S. insist it is a "self-defense" measure.

Lim and Blinken also agreed to step up cooperation to induce a change in North Korea's strategic calculus and behavior, including through the faithful implementation of U.N. sanctions against the communist country.

Should the North carry out another provocation, it will face stronger sanctions and deeper isolation, they noted.

"Sharing the view that North Korea's denuclearization is a key strategic interest of all regional countries, they agreed to coordinate closely while keeping the North's denuclearization a top priority," the ministry said.

Lim also met with Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, and held "broad discussions" on maintaining and strengthening the alliance in the face of the "largest regional threat" posed by the North, according to the ministry.

hague@yna.co.kr
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