US, South Korea agree to finalize their 'Tailored Deterrence Strategy' by May

The US and South Korea have agreed to finalize revising the Tailored Deterrence Strategy (TDS) before the upcoming Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) expected in May of this year.

In a joint statement issued by the US Department of Defense Tuesday evening after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meet with his South Korean counterpart Lee Jong-sup in Seoul, the two sides agreed to bolster the level and scale of this year's combined military exercises and training.

"The two leaders reaffirmed that the two sides will make substantive progress in completing the revision of the Tailored Deterrence Strategy (TDS) before this year's SCM," said the statement.

TDS, which the two allies adopted in 2013, is currently being revised in order to develop concrete contingency plans for various nuclear crisis scenarios in the case of a North Korean attack.

Washington and Seoul also agreed to work closely together in the future to ensure that US strategic assets are deployed in a timely and coordinated manner.

They did not, however, provide any additional information about the deployment of US strategic assets, as Austin vowed after arriving in the South Korean capital of Seoul on Monday that Washington is committed to protecting its East Asian ally in the event of a threat.

"This commitment includes U.S. conventional, nuclear and missile-defense capabilities, as well as the forward presence of 28,500 U.S. uniformed personnel (in Korea)," Austin was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency.

"I am also here to reaffirm that the U.S. extended deterrence commitment to the ROK is ironclad," he wrote in a piece published by the agency the day he arrived.

Meanwhile, Austin and Lee also condemned North Korea's continued "provocations and violations" of UN Security Council resolutions, including its missile launches and recent drone incursions.

"They also affirmed that the ROK-U.S. Alliance, along with the international community, will continue to take a strong stance against any further provocations by the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)," the statement said.

"The two leaders also pledged to further expand and bolster the level and scale of this year's combined exercises and training.

"To this end, the two leaders concurred on the need to take into account changes in the security environment, including the DPRK's recent steps with respect to its nuclear and missile programs, to strengthen combined exercises and training, including the upcoming combined bilateral exercises," the statement said, adding that the two countries also agreed to expand the scope and scale of combined field training exercises and to conduct a large-scale combined joint fires demonstration this year.

This month, the US and South Korea will also hold the Deterrence Strategy Committee table-top exercise.

Separately, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin left for the US on Wednesday to hold talks on strengthening the bilateral alliance and seek international support in dealing with North Korea's provocations.

Park and his American counterpart Antony Blinken plan to meet in Washington on Friday, the South Korean Foreign Minister said in a statement.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen again, with North Korea launching dozens of missiles in a series of weapons tests last year, including intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Source: AA

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