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US takes alliance commitment with S. Korea very seriously: Pentagon spokesman

The United States takes its defense alliance with South Korea very seriously, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday, highlighting US efforts to ensure the countries' joint defense readiness at all times.

John Kirby also said the US always evaluates its military exercises in any given year to make sure that the military is ready.

"Obviously, we're all committed to the denuclearization of North Korea, and to security and stability on the peninsula," he said when asked about the US' ongoing North Korea policy review and if its outcome might affect the US military presence and exercises on the Korean Peninsula.

Kirby noted the review was still underway, but said the US always takes a look "in any normal year" about the degree, scope and frequency of military training all around the world and "certainly on the peninsula as well to make sure that we are as ready as possible to deter."

"But we take our commitments to the alliance that we have with the Republic of Korea very, very seriously," he added.

In addition to the North Korea policy review, which is largely led by the State Department, the US is conducting a global defense posture review, which might change the number of US troops deployed overseas.

The US currently has some 28,500 troops in South Korea.

The spokesman's remarks come amid strong objections from North Korea against joint military exercises by South Korean and US troops, which Pyongyang denounces as rehearsals for an invasion despite repeated assurances that the exercises are strictly defensive in nature.

Pyongyang has turned a deaf ear to US overtures for engagement since mid-February and says it will continue to ignore any calls for dialogue until Washington gives up what it calls a hostile policy. (Yonhap)