Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Trump 'pledges to defend South Korea' in departure from campaign rhetoric

Iran Press TV

Thu Nov 10, 2016 6:20AM

South Korean diplomatic sources have reportedly said that US President-elect Donald Trump has pledged his commitment to an existing security alliance between Washington and Seoul, despite his campaign rhetoric that the US would potentially abandon its Asian ally.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing diplomatic officials, said on Thursday that Trump had made the pledge during a phone call with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, saying he agreed "100 percent" that the two allies should further develop their ties and that the US would maintain a strong defense posture to protect the Asian country.

During the 10-minute telephone conversation, Park also reportedly congratulated the US president-elect on his victory and said the alliance between the two countries had grown and mutual trust deepened in the face of various challenges over the past decades.

Trump won the US presidency on Wednesday, defying most forecasts. While campaigning for the White House, he had repeatedly upset American allies by saying he would be seeking them to pay for US military help if he becomes president.

In an election campaign rally in January, he had said he would be willing to withdraw US troops deployed to South Korea unless Seoul paid a greater share of the cost of maintaining the US military presence there.

"We get paid nothing, we get paid peanuts... South Korea should pay us and pay us very substantially for protecting them," Trump had said at the time.

North Korea has been at odds with the South since the end of the Korean War of the early 1950s. An armistice ended all military hostilities between the two Koreas back then, but no peace deal ever ensued, meaning that, while the two countries are not at war, they are technically not at peace, either.

The US, which has about 28,500 troops in South Korea, is planning to deploy its Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in the Southeast Asian country to protect it against potential North Korean missile attacks.

Seoul and Washington claim the THAAD missile system is intended to counter threats posed by North Korea following its repeated missile and nuclear tests.

Pyongyang says the tests aim to protect itself from the US military, which occasionally deploys nuclear-powered warships and aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons in the region.

The UN has adopted five rounds of crippling sanctions against Pyongyang since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.

Meanwhile, a North Korean daily has said in an editorial that the next US administration had to deal with Pyongyang as a "nuclear state," denouncing any push for the denuclearization of the Asian country.

"Washington's hope for North Korea's denuclearization is an outdated illusion," read an editorial by North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Thursday.

The United States has always maintained that it cannot accept North Korea as a nuclear state, however, Trump has indicated that he would be open to negotiations with its leader Kim Jong-un to talk him out of his nuclear ambitions.

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