Washington (US), April 6: South Korean delegates representing President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol discussed the possible deployment of U.S. strategic assets to South Korea in a meeting with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Tuesday, the chief delegate said.
Rep. Park Jin of Yoon's People Power Party also said the sides discussed a need to hold a bilateral summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Yoon at an early date.
"The two sides also exchanged views on the need to hold a U.S.-South Korea summit at an early date since their two leaders remain determined to strengthen the South Korea-U.S. alliance," Park told reporters after meeting with Sullivan at the White House.
Park said the group, called the U.S.-South Korea policy consultation delegation, also delivered a personal letter for Biden from Yoon that was given to the White House national security advisor.
The South Korean lawmaker said the letter highlights the need to further upgrade the South Korea-U.S. alliance in order to tackle the North Korean nuclear issue while also enhancing the level of cooperation between the countries on a range of regional and global issues including climate change and supply chain resiliency.
"We also had consultations on ways to enhance the joint defense posture of South Korea and the U.S. and strengthen the U.S. extended deterrence," Park said of his meeting with Sullivan.
Park added their discussions also included the possible deployment of U.S. strategic assets to South Korea.
"Deploying strategic assets is an important part of strengthening extended deterrence as I said just now. You may understand South Korea and the U.S. discussed the issue today in that sense," said Park.
Strategic assets generally refers to formidable military hardware such as nuclear-powered submarines, aircraft carriers and long-range bombers that are often used as a show of force to deter provocations or aggression by potential adversaries.
South Korea's defense ministry earlier said in a report to President-elect Yoon's transition team that it plans to hold discussions with the U.S. on the deployment of U.S. strategic assets to South Korea amid growing tensions with North Korea.
The U.S. currently maintains some 28,500 troops in South Korea under the 1953 Mutual Defense Treaty with Seoul.
North Korea conducted 12 rounds of missile launches this year, including seven rounds in January alone that marked the largest number of missile tests it conducted in a single month.
Pyongyang also launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile since November 2017 on March 24.