By Chae Yun-hwan
SINGAPORE, June 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States agreed Saturday to jointly examine the wreckage of a purported North Korean space rocket once it is retrieved from the Yellow Sea, a senior Seoul official said.
Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and his U.S. counterpart, Lloyd Austin, reached the agreement during a brief "pull-aside" meeting on the margins of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, as the South Korean military is carrying out a salvage operation to recover the sunken part of the rocket.
The rocket crashed into the waters some 200 kilometers west of the western South Korean island of Eocheong on Wednesday morning after an "abnormal flight," Seoul's military has said.
"South Korea and the U.S. have agreed on the joint investigation to be conducted once it's retrieved," the defense ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
During the meeting, the two sides also reaffirmed the need for attention to follow through with agreements that President Yoon Suk Yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden made during their White House summit in April to bolster deterrence against North Korean threats.
The agreements include the establishment of the Nuclear Consultative Group, an entity to discuss nuclear and strategic planning issues, and a U.S. pledge to enhance the "regular visibility" of its strategic assets to South Korea, including a nuclear ballistic missile submarine.
Lee and Austin's meeting came just before they held trilateral talks with their Japanese counterpart, Yasukazu Hamada, where they agreed to operate a system for sharing real-time North Korean missile warning data within this year.
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