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US, S.Korea alliance is important due to China, N.Korea threats: Defense Secretary

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday the United States’ alliance with South Korea is ever more important because of growing security concerns over China and North Korea, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported.

South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook said it was important for the allies to maintain a strong deterrence and joint defense posture against North Korea, the agency added.

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“The US-South Korea alliance is ever more important because of the unprecedented threats from China and North Korea,” Austin said at the start of talks with South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook, according to the Yonhap news agency.

Austin called the alliance a “linchpin” for peace, security and prosperity in Northeast Asia, and for a free and open Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

Suh said it was important for the allies to maintain a strong deterrence and joint defence posture against North Korea, and vowed to strengthen the alliance, Yonhap said.

Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were set to hold “2+2” talks with their South Korean counterparts and meet President Moon Jae-in and other senior officials until Thursday.

Speaking to a roundtable of Japanese journalists in Tokyo, Blinken said Beijing was “raising tensions not diminishing them,” citing its posturing over Taiwan and actions in the East and South China Seas where it has territorial disputes with Japan and other Asian nations.

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