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Park's security advisor held talks on N.K. nukes with U.S. officials: source

All News 13:46 October 07, 2016

SEOUL, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's presidential security advisor held talks with senior U.S. officials in Washington this week over North Korea's escalating nuclear threats, a source at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Friday.

Cho Tae-yong, the deputy chief of the National Security Office (NSO) under the presidential office, visited the United States on Tuesday for a set of meetings with Washington officials over a range of North Korea-related security issues.

"Deputy (NSO) chief Cho recently visited the U.S. and held comprehensive consultations over ways to respond to the North's nuclear problem," the source told Yonhap News Agency, requesting anonymity.

Another Cheong Wa Dae official said, "His trip was part of ongoing efforts to maintain close communication between the National Security Councils of South Korea and the U.S." Cho doubles as the chief of the National Security Council secretariat.

During his visit to the U.S., the senior security official is thought to have met with high-level officials from the White House and the Department of State such as Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken.

Observers said they might have discussed joint efforts to adopt a fresh package of tougher sanctions at the U.N. Security Council in response to the North's Sept. 9 nuclear test and bilateral cooperation in crafting their respective standalone sanctions.

Following the North's fifth and most powerful nuclear blast to date, calls have been mounting both in Seoul and Washington for stronger measures, including a "pre-emptive strike," to counter the communist state's evolving nuclear and missile threats.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has also repeatedly mentioned the need to strengthen Washington's extended deterrence, the U.S' stated commitment to mobilize all military assets, nuclear and conventional, to defend its allies under attack.

Thus, analysts predicted that during his talks with U.S. officials, Cho might have touched on practical military steps that the allies could undertake to deal with contingencies on the Korean Peninsula.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Ambassador to the U.S. Ahn Ho-young said Seoul has had no discussions whatsoever with Washington about a pre-emptive strike on the North.

Cho is to return home on Saturday, a source said.

This photo, taken on Sept. 9, 2016, shows Cho Tae-yong, the deputy chief of the National Security Office (NSO), speaking during a press conference at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul. (Yonhap)


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