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(3rd LD) Yoon, Biden agree to expand joint military exercises amid N.K. threats

Diplomacy 17:11 May 21, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with results of summit; CHANGES headline)
By Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed Saturday to begin discussions on expanding joint military exercises between the two countries amid growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.

The two reached the agreement during their first summit in Seoul, which took place as both countries believed a nuclear test or intercontinental ballistic missile launch from the North was imminent and could happen while Biden was touring the region.

"Both leaders agree to initiate discussions to expand the scope and scale of combined military exercises and training on and around the Korean Peninsula," a joint statement on the summit said.

Military exercises between the allies had been scaled back amid the COVID-19 pandemic and as part of efforts to engage the North under the previous administrations of President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Biden also reaffirmed the U.S. "extended deterrence" commitment to South Korea using the "full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional and missile defense capabilities," according to the statement.

President Yoon Suk-yeol (L) and U.S. President Joe Biden greet each other as Biden arrives for their first summit at the presidential office in Yongsan, Seoul, on May 21, 2022. (Yonhap)
U.S. President Joe Biden (R) pays a silent tribute at the National Cemetery in Seoul on May 21, 2022. He visited the cemetery before holding a summit with President Yoon Suk-yeol at the presidential office. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)
U.S. President Joe Biden (3rd from L) and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (2nd from R) look around a Samsung Electronics chip plant in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, on May 20, 2022, guided by Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung Group and Samsung Electronics vice chairman. Biden arrived in South Korea the same day for his first visit to the country as president. (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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