WASHINGTON, January 31. /TASS/. Washington is committed to using conventional and nuclear deterrents to protect South Korea, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said at a joint press conference with South Korean Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-sup in Seoul on Tuesday.
Austin pointed out that the United States "is committed to using the full range of conventional and nuclear deterrents to protect South Korea."
The US defense chief also noted that North Korea had staged an unprecedented number of provocations in 2022. Washington and Seoul condemn such actions that destabilize the region, Austin added.
According to a joint statement by the two countries’ defense chiefs, they "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," the statement reads.
In addition, Lloyd Austin and Lee Jong-sup emphasized that the two nations would "enhance information sharing."
Austin noted that 28,500 US troops were stationed in South Korea, constituting one of the largest US overseas troop contingents. The two countries made much progress in boosting cooperation in the past year, the Pentagon chief said, adding that the US and South Korea had stepped up retaliatory measures amid threats from North Korea.
Austin arrived in South Korea on a visit on Monday.