US Secretary of State Tillerson Pledges Commitment To South Korea

Brandon Ko, Feb. 8, 2017, 9:23 a.m.


New U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday pledged "steadfast" commitment to the alliance with Seoul.

Tillerson described North Korean nuclear program as an "immediate threat" both to Seoul and Washington, adding the two countries should finds a joint approach.

He was speaking to his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se in their first phone conversation.

The top diplomats "vowed to continue efforts to make the South Korea-U.S. relations the strongest alliance under the new U.S. administration in order to be able to respond effectively to challenges posed by North Korea and its nuclear ambitions," the Foreign Ministry here said in a statement.

They also discussed a planned meeting on the sidelines of the G20 foreign minister's conference in Bonn, Germany on Feb. 16-17 or the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 17-19.

Tillerson said the bilateral alliance is vital for peace and prosperity in Asia and the Pacific.

They also defended plans to deploy a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery in South Korea. "Both sides concurred that the THAAD deployment is a defensive action to guard only against North Korean threats and it does not infringe upon the interest of any other countries," the ministry said.

The agreed that China, which objects to the THAAD plans, has a vital role to play in persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

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