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S. Korea, US military discuss bolstering ties

Defense Minister Suh Wook (far left) and US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro. (Ministry of National Defense)
Defense Minister Suh Wook (far left) and US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro. (Ministry of National Defense)
Defense Minister Suh Wook and US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro on Thursday discussed deepening naval ties and expanding alliance, during a meeting held at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Yongsan, Seoul.

Suh thanked Del Toro for US support in bringing in nearly 400 Afghans in August who worked on South Korean projects in Afghanistan before the Taliban seized power. Seoul amended the law to grant them long-term stays.

Del Toro said he expects to see a growing alliance that will allow them to work not only for prosperity in the region, but for a rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific. Washington is seeking to rein in China’s rising power there.

South Korea was one of the first overseas stops Del Toro made among the Indo-Pacific countries, since taking office in August.

In September, the US, Britain and Australia reached a defense pact, known as AUKUS, in what many see as part of efforts to avert a Chinese hegemony in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly over the South China Sea, where Beijing claims sovereignty but is accused of endangering peace.

In March, the Defense Ministry openly discredited reports that Seoul and Beijing had been in talks over the Quad alliance, another US-led democratic coalition comprising the US, Australia, India and Japan that aims to put a check on an assertive China.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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