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Park pledges to enhance U.S. alliance, deter North Korea nukes

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Published : 2013-02-22 20:47
Updated : 2013-02-22 20:47

President-elect Park Geun-hye pledged Friday to solidify South Korea’s alliance with the U.S. to deter the growing threat from North Korea, which conducted its third nuclear test last week.

The incoming leader visited the headquarters of the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command in Yongsan, Seoul, three days before her inauguration.

“A complete deterrence of North Korea shall be created through a strong Korea-U.S. alliance,” she told U.S. Forces Korea officials, including top commander Gen. James Thurman.

Before the visit, Park received a briefing on national security from the Defense Ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“Despite the concerns of the international community, North Korea has continued to engage in nuclear development and provocative actions targeting South Korea. The Republic of Korea and I shall not tolerate North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons,” she said.
President-elect Park Geun-hye greets Gen. James Thurman (left), chief of the the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, at its headquarters Friday as Deputy Commander Kwon Oh-sung looks on. (Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)

Park also reaffirmed her commitment to the 60-year-old defense ties with the U.S.

“The U.S. is a ‘blood ally’ that shed blood to protect our liberal democracy during the Korean War (1950-53),” she said, and added that her “new administration will do its best to develop the Korea-U.S. alliance towards a future-oriented direction.”

Park’s call for a strong alliance was echoed by Gen. Thurman,, stating that the Korea-U.S. relationship was the strongest bilateral alliance he has seen during his 38 years of military service.

He also added that the militaries of both countries were in partnership to maintain the strongest defense posture possible against North Korea.

Park’s visit comes on the heels of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the U.S for a bilateral meaning with President Obama. In an interview with the Washington Post, the rightwing Japanese leader also stressed a stronger U.S.-Japan alliance to curb the growing military threat posed by the more boisterous China.

After her meetings, Park wrote in the guestbook: “Future-oriented Korea-U.S. alliance, peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula.”

By Samuel Songhoon Lee (songhoon@heraldcorp.com)

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