N Korea remains serious threat: US defence chief
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Last Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 13:35
Seoul: US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in South Korea on Wednesday, pledging to keep a "nuclear umbrella" in place over Washington's close ally to deter threats from North Korea.

Panetta, on the last leg of an Asian tour that also took him to Indonesia and Japan, was later today to meet troops at the huge Yongsan US army base in central Seoul.

US forces have been based in South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 war with the North, with 28,500 currently stationed in the country.

The US defence chief, in an article in today's Chosun Ilbo newspaper, reiterated the commitment to defend the South which accuses the North of two deadly border attacks last year.

"Working together, our militaries will continue to deter North Korean aggression, and stand prepared to defeat the North should it ever force war upon us," Panetta wrote.

"It is important to send this signal because North Korea remains a serious threat. Pyongyang has demonstrated its willingness to conduct provocations that target innocent lives."

The North also continued to defy the international community with its nuclear and missile capabilities, he said in the article.

In addition to defences on the ground, Panetta said, the United States "will ensure a strong and effective nuclear umbrella over the ROK (South Korea) so that Pyongyang never misjudges our will and capability to respond decisively to nuclear aggression".

Panetta is due to meet his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan-Jin at a Security Consultative Meeting between the allies on October 28 and will also pay a courtesy call on President Lee Myung-Bak during his three-day stay.


First Published: Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 13:29

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