A senior US military official said the United States' aim is to continue 'to advance our shared objectives of the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.'
The United States and South Korea (Republic of Korea, or ROK) are expected to conduct joint military air drills in the Korean Peninsula towards the end of this month. The drills, the first such since 2017, are seen as a show of strength in light of an increased North Korean nuclear threat.
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However, talks of drills were neither confirmed nor denied by a senior US military official, who said the United States' aim is to continue "to advance our shared objectives of the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula."
The official, Brigadier General Pat Ryder, addressing a press briefing at the Pentagon, said, "We remain focused on continuing to coordinate closely with our allies and partners to address the threats posed by the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or North Korea) ... we'll continue to work closely with allies and partners throughout the region to reinforce regional stability and security."
He said the relationship between the US and South Korea is based on defence, or peace, and not aggression. Ryder said North Korea's recent nuclear drills are creating "more consternation or instability in the region" and said the US is open to a dialogue to sort this out as opposed to escalating the situation.
Currently, the United States has stationed more than 28,000 US forces in the Korean Peninsula, and Ryder said this will continue in the long term.
Commenting on the increasingly aggressive behaviour by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the context of the invasion of Ukraine, especially concerning a potential nuclear attack, Ryder said they have no specific intelligence to show that Russia will employ nuclear weapons.
"We continue to monitor the situation very closely. As (US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin) and others have said, this kind of nuclear sabre rattling is reckless, it's irresponsible, particularly given the security situation in that region of the world and elsewhere. And so it's something that we'll continue to keep a close eye on," Ryder said.
Ryder further said the US remains committed to working alongside its international allies and partners to support Ukraine in its fight to defend sovereign territory. "The consequences of not doing so would portend a very serious national security threat — international security threat for a very long time to come," he said.
Earlier in the day, Austin met his UK counterpart, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, at the Pentagon, where they discussed the ongoing support to Ukraine by the two nations, as well as the continued importance of transatlantic and regional security in light of Russia's attack in Ukraine.