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Seoul believes U.S. won't unilaterally act against North without 'cooperation' with ally

All Headlines 10:43 April 11, 2017

SEOUL, April 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense ministry said Tuesday the Donald Trump administration won't take any substantive military action against North Korea without "close cooperation" with Seoul.

It cited the spirit of the bilateral alliance that dates back to the 1950-53 Korean War.

"(Such a military operation, if any,) will be conducted under the robust South Korea-U.S. combined defense posture based on their close cooperation," the ministry's spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said at a press briefing.

He was responding to mounting concerns here that the Trump government may seek a pre-emptive attack on the North similar to its recent airstrikes against Syria.

The U.S. fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles last week at an air base in Syria in response to the Syrian use of chemical weapons.

Many observers construed it as a tough warning message to the North's Kim Jong-un regime bent on developing nuclear and missile programs.

Some also raise the possibility that the United States may consider a "decapitation" strategy, a targeted attack to remove the enemy's leadership.

Moon, however, would not use such words as "prior consultations" or "consent" directly between Seoul and Washington over such a military operation that could lead to a full-fledged war on the peninsula.

"Close coordination includes that," he only said when asked repeatedly to clarify the government's view. "It's in line with the alliance spirit."

On a question about whether a pre-emptive U.S. strike on the North will be in breach of the 1973 Armistice Agreement, the official said he would not talk about a "hypothetical" matter.

On Monday, Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the liberal Democratic Party, stressed that South Korea should take the initiative in handling the North Korea issue.

He said the U.S. should not make a pre-emptive strike on the North without the consent of the South Korean people.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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