South Korea on Tuesday acknowledged the possibility of a need to purchase advanced US weapons systems in the future as part of efforts to enhance its deterrence against North Korean provocations but dismissed any immediate plan to spend "many billions of dollars" as suggested by Washington.
In a short statement released after a telephone conversation between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his US counterpart Donald Trump late Monday, the White House said the US president has provided "his conceptual approval for the purchase of many billions of dollars' worth of military weapons and equipment" by South Korea.
Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun (Yonhap)
Park Soo-hyun, spokesman for South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, said the US appeared to be referring to the allies' earlier discussions on upgrading South Korea's own defense capabilities.
"In their discussions so far, the two leaders have shared a view that there is a need to upgrade South Korea's defense capabilities, including an early establishment of its three-axis defense system, to counter threats from North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, and agreed to continue their cooperation to that end," the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said in a statement.
The three-axis defense system refers to South Korea's own kill chain, missile defense system and massive retaliation capabilities.
"And to this end, the two leaders have agreed to move forward the countries' discussions regarding US support for the introduction of advanced weapons or technologies required by South Korea," Park added.
Another Cheong Wa Dae official said there were no discussions on the issue during the two leaders' latest talks held late Monday.
The Cheong Wa Dae spokesman earlier said the two leaders agreed to "actively seek countermeasures against the North's future provocations and thoroughly prepare for possible provocations in the future."
"As part of such efforts, the two leaders reached an agreement on the removal of restrictions on the payload of South Korea's missiles under Korea-US missile guidelines," Park said. (Yonhap)