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US, South Korea to Boost Deterrence Against North Korean Threats

Seoul, South Korea - The United States and South Korea are pledging to enhance joint deterrence against growing threats from North Korea, as Washington and Seoul celebrate their seven-decadelong alliance.

During an address in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken Monday underlined the ongoing collaboration between the two allies in "real-time sharing" in North Korea's missile warning data and countering North Korea's malicious cyber activities, which finance Pyongyang's massive weapon programs.

The top diplomat's remarks came as officials from the U.S. and South Korea prepare for a visit to Seoul by Blinken in the coming weeks.

Blinken is expected to hold talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin in November - their first face-to-face meetings in Seoul as chief diplomats - to discuss ongoing issues such as strengthening the regional alliance to defend against threats from North Korea, according to people familiar with the planning in Seoul. The two had met several times in the United States.

Last Friday, Blinken, Park, and newly appointed Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko held direct talks in New York on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly meetings. They pledged to "respond sternly" to any acts that threaten regional security.

Blinken is also expected to attend a foreign ministers' meeting of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations, or G7, Nov. 7-8 in Tokyo.

"Attempts to assist North Korea's unlawful programs or to engage in arms trade with North Korea" must "stop," South Korea's Park said Monday from Seoul, speaking virtually to the event hosted by the Korea Foundation and Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS.

He added North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile development constitutes a clear violation of ten U.N. Security Council resolutions.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the alliance between the U.S. and South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea, or ROK.

In Seoul, preparations are under way for a large-scale military parade to commemorate the alliance formed seven decades ago, and the 75th anniversary of ROK's Armed Forces Day. Tuesday's parade will be the first such event to be held in 10 years.

According to a poll conducted by Gallup Korea from September 4-8, 91.6% of the 1,238 people interviewed said that the U.S.-South Korea bilateral alliance is important, with 53.7% of them also expressing the opinion that the alliance should continue to be reinforced. These views are especially prominent among individuals in their 20s and 30s.

On Monday, a three-day U.S.-South Korea joint naval drill took place in the waters east of the Korean Peninsula to reinforce readiness amid growing military threats from North Korea.

Nine U.S. and South Korean warships and two maritime patrol aircraft were participating in what Seoul said were anti-submarine warfare and live-fire drills in the East Sea.

This training is designed to "enhance the ROK-U.S. combined operational capabilities and interoperability" amid increasing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, said an official from South Korea's Navy on Monday.

Officials from the U.S. and South Korea recently discussed the revision of a joint deterrence strategy against Pyongyang's military threats, known as the "Tailored Deterrence Strategy." South Korean defense officials said that Seoul and Washington are close to completing its revision by the end of this year, following regular defense talks between the two countries.

Lee Juhyun contributed to this report.