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
"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
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
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.