A key South Korean official arrived in the US to seek more help from Washington to counter evolving threats from North Korea, local media said on Thursday.
South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong and Vice Defense Minister Shin Beom-chul will hold the first Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG) session after nearly five years on Friday, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
“Close South Korea-US cooperation is needed to deter and counter North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile threats,” the agency quoted Shin as saying after his arrival in the US.
Earlier Cho said that during the meeting they would discuss the US deployment of “strategic assets” to Korea.
Cho’s visit to the US came after North Korea last week adopted a new law to use pre-emptive nuclear strikes to protect itself, declaring North Korea a nuclear weapons state.
Under the new law, North Korea empowered its armed forces to use nuclear weapons if an attack with nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction was initiated or grew near.
On Tuesday, South Korea warned that any attempt from North Korea to use nuclear weapons would face a tough response and could spell “self-destruction.”
Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un again rejected any plan to abandon his nuclear program, accusing the US of attempting to topple his regime.
“The aim of the United States is not just to eliminate our nuclear weapons but also ultimately to bring down our regime anytime by forcing (North Korea) to put down nuclear weapons and give up or weaken the power to exercise self-defense,” Kim was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.
He also ruled out resuming negotiations with Washington on denuclearization.
Kim’s statement came after the US, South Korea, and Japan issued a joint warning that if Pyongyang holds another nuclear test, they will respond collectively.
Tension on the peninsula rose in 2020 when North Korea attacked and blew up the inter-Korean liaison office along the border. Seoul has threatened a strong response if Pyongyang “further worsens the situation.”
However, tensions soared further last year when both Seoul and Pyongyang ramped up military drills to show off their might.