The United States and South Korea will explore raising their defence posture to deter future military threats from North Korea. This was announced by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Yu Myung-hwan in Seoul on Wednesday.
In televised comments to the press, Ms. Clinton said: “The U.S. and South Korean militaries will be engaging in joint exercises. And, the [U.S.] President has ordered that our military, working with the South Korean military, look at what additional enhancements can be made to ensure readiness and deter future attacks [from North Korea].”
Ms. Clinton was answering questions on U.S. options to stand by its military ally, South Korea, in the wake of the findings of an international team of investigators that North Korea was behind the recent sinking of a South Korean warship. Affirming that Washington had once again “underscored our rock-solid commitment to the defence of South Korea,” she asserted that “there should be no mistaking that by anyone”.
Mr. Lee's aides were reported to have told Korean journalists that he and Ms. Clinton agreed on the need for “strategic patience” in facing North Korea. It was not immediately clear whether she herself suggested such a course of action while exploring a higher defence posture.
Asked about China's stand, Ms. Clinton told international journalists that “it is in everyone's interests, including China, to make a persuasive case for North Korea to change direction”. Mr. Yu, speaking at the same press conference, said: “China and Russia were also provided with the objective data and material beforehand. And, if they requested, we were willing to receive experts to discuss the issue. ... China and Russia, of course, will take time. But they will not be able to deny the facts.”