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U.S., S. Korea to enhance joint deterrence, improve N. Korean human rights: Amb. Cho

All News 02:35 February 01, 2023

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States will seek to strengthen their joint deterrence against North Korea while also working to improve human rights conditions in the reclusive North, South Korea's ambassador to the U.S., Cho Tae-yong, said Tuesday.

The allies will also work together to cut off North Korea's funding for its illicit weapons programs, according to the South Korean diplomat.

"North Korea continues to advance its nuclear and missile capabilities," Cho said in a meeting with reporters in Washington. "South Korea and the U.S. are enhancing their joint deterrent and defense capabilities through close cooperation in all areas."

"Most of all, (South Korea) will cooperate closely with the U.S. to enhance the implementation of U.S. extended deterrence," he added.

This Yonhap file photo shows South Korean Ambassador to the United States Cho Tae-yong speaking to reporters in Washington. (Yonhap)

This Yonhap file photo shows South Korean Ambassador to the United States Cho Tae-yong speaking to reporters in Washington. (Yonhap)

His remark comes after South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reaffirmed their commitment to bolstering their countries' capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean nuclear and missile threats in bilateral talks held in Seoul on Tuesday (Korea time).

"The defense ministers' talks, held Jan. 31, and the extended deterrence operation exercise to be held next month are importance opportunities to further enhance the countries' cooperation," said Cho.

The ambassador added the countries will work to bring North Korea back to the dialogue table this year, partly by cutting off funds from being funnelled into the North's illegal nuclear and missile development programs.

Cho also expressed hope for the appointment of new special U.S. envoy for North Korean human rights, Julie Turner, in the near future, saying Seoul and Washington will work to "further strengthen their practical cooperation on North Korean human rights."

Turner, director of East Asia and the Pacific at the state department's bureau of democracy, human rights and labor, was nominated by President Joe Biden last week to serve as special U.S. envoy for North Korean human rights, a post that has remained vacant since January 2017.

The top South Korean diplomat in the U.S. said the countries will also work to develop their alliance into a comprehensive global strategic alliance this year, which marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1953.

"(We) are also looking at ways to expand the South Korea-U.S. alliance from traditional areas of defense, security and economic relations to science technology and space," said Cho.




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