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Hagel, South Korean Defense Minister Discuss Alliance

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke by phone with South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin last night to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the alliance between their two countries during a time of heightened tension brought about by North Korean threats, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement summarizing the call.

"Secretary Hagel and Minister Kim reaffirmed the strength of the alliance, which has been, and continues to be, instrumental in maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Little said in the statement.

Hagel highlighted the steadfast U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea, including extended deterrence capabilities, and pointed to the recently signed counter-provocation plan between the two nations as a mechanism to enhance consultation and coordination of alliance responses to North Korean aggression, Little added.

The secretary also expressed his strong confidence in Army Gen. James D. Thurman's leadership of the 28,500 men and women of U.S. Forces Korea and applauded the steps his team has taken to further integrate command and control functions with South Korea, Little said. The leaders also discussed the recently announced plan to increase U.S. ground-based interceptors and early warning and tracking radar in response to the North Korean threat, he added.

"Secretary Hagel thanked Minister Kim for his friendship and noted that his service under two different South Korean presidents -- a first for a [South Korean] minister of national defense -- can only further strengthen the [South Korea]-U.S. relationship," Little said in the statement.


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