SEOUL: In the face of rising nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and his visiting US counterpart Joe Biden agreed on Saturday to begin discussions on expanding joint military drills between the two countries.
According to reports, the two came to an agreement at their first-ever encounter in Seoul, which took place as both countries felt a nuclear test or intercontinental ballistic missile launch by North Korea was near, and may possibly happen while Biden was touring the region. "Both presidents agree to begin discussions to broaden the scope and scale of combined military exercises and training on and around the Korean Peninsula," according to the summit's joint declaration.
Military exercises between the allies had been reduced during the Covid-19 epidemic and as part of prior administrations' efforts to engage the North. Following the summit, Yoon and Biden had a joint press conference where they emphasised the necessity for "different forms" of exercises, even in the event of a nuclear attack from North Korea.
Biden also reaffirmed the US commitment to South Korea's "extended deterrence" using the "whole range of US military capabilities, including nuclear, conventional, and missile defence capabilities," according to the statement.
In the case of a contingency, extended deterrence implies that the US would deploy all of its military assets to defend its partner, South Korea.