South Korea's top general on Thursday met with the commander of a key U.S. military unit in charge of overseeing the country's nuclear arsenal, his office said, as North Korea conducted drills in response to an ongoing major military exercise between the allies.
During their meeting here, Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman Gen. Kim Seung-kyum and Gen. Anthony J. Cotton, the visiting chief of the U.S. Strategic Command, shared their assessment of the regional security situation and discussed cooperation between the JCS and the U.S. command.
Cotton arrived in South Korea on Tuesday as the allies have been staging the annual Ulchi Freedom Shield exercise since Aug. 21 to strengthen their combined defense posture.
The meeting took place after the North conducted a tactical nuclear strike drill simulating annihilating major command posts and airfields in the South and military command drills aimed at occupying South Korean territory.
After giving Cotton a rundown on the allies' wartime joint operations system, Kim thanked the U.S. commander for his command's efforts to contributing to extended deterrence against North Korea's nuclear threats and stressed that a strong alliance between the allies is a solid foundation against such provocations.
Cotton reaffirmed that the U.S. commitment to extended deterrence is unwavering despite any threats by the North and stressed that his command maintains a readiness posture to carry out the pledge when necessary.
Kim and Cotton agreed on bolstering cooperation between the JCS and the U.S. Strategic Command and also establishing close cooperation with South Korea's envisioned "strategic command" set for establishment next year.
Thursday's meeting took place at the "B-1 bunker" at the South's Capital Defense Command in southern Seoul as the joint exercise is under way. Cotton, who visited the country for the first time since taking office in December last year, is the first U.S. strategic commander to visit the wartime bunker.
Source: Yonhap News Agency