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(LEAD) U.S. vaccines to S. Korea will ensure safety of troops, deepen friendship: State Dept.

All News 03:37 June 05, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with reports of remarks from White House spokeswoman, minor changes in paras 5-11; ADDS photo)
By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, June 4 (Yonhap) -- U.S. vaccine support for South Korea will help ensure the safety and readiness of the combined forces in the U.S. ally, a State Department spokesman said Friday.

Ned Price also highlighted the longstanding friendship between the allied countries as one million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine were heading to South Korea.

"One million J&J vaccines are headed to our partners in the Republic of Korea. With these doses we're ensuring the safety and readiness of ROK and U.S. forces," the spokesman wrote in a Twitter post, referring to South Korea by its official name.

"The friendship between our two countries runs deep, especially in times of great need," he added.

This image captured from the Twitter account of the U.S. State Department on June 4, 2021, shows a shipment of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines being prepared for shipment to South Korea. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The 1 million doses were promised by President Joe Biden when he hosted his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, for their first in-person summit in Washington on May 21.

"As we noted when the president hosted the South Koreans here just a few weeks ago, this was done in order to ensure the safety and readiness of U.S. and our ROK military forces," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a daily press briefing.

Biden earlier said the U.S. vaccines will help inoculate South Korea's 550,000 active service members, who work shoulder-to-shoulder with their American allies on a daily basis.

"And today, thanks to a whole of government effort we are delivering on that promise," said Psaki.

The image captured from the website of the White House shows spokeswoman Jen Psaki speaking in a press briefing on June 4, 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

U.S. maintains some 28,500 troops in South Korea under its bilateral joint defense treaty with Seoul.

The 1 million doses, however, will be used to vaccinate reservists as South Korea currently does not allow people under the age of 30 o get Johnson & Johnson vaccines, while the country's active service members largely consist of young conscripts.

The U.S. vaccines arrived at Seoul's Seongnam airport earlier in the day, according to reports.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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