Donald Trump, South Korea's Moon agree to boost Seoul's missile capability

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis left accompanied by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford right speaks to members of the media outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington Sunday Sept. 3 2017 regarding the escalating crisis in North Kor

South Korea and the USA are discussing the dispatch of F-22 and F-35B fighter jets on a rotational basis as part of efforts to boost extended deterrence against the North's threats, they said.

It came as the United States and South Korean forces were nearing the end of the 10-day annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint exercises, which the North regards as a rehearsal for invasion.

President Moon Jae-in convened a National Security Council (NSC) session Sunday, shortly after South Korea's weather agency detected a magnitude 5.7 natural disaster from North Korea's nuclear test site in a sign of another strategic provocation.

Trump and Moon spoke on the phone Friday about North Korean's "continued destabilizing and escalatory behavior", the White House said in a statement.

Topping the agenda in talks between the two defense chiefs in Washington on Wednesday was how to strengthen their joint defense posture.

Trump also gave "conceptual" approval to the purchase by the South of billions of dollars of USA military hardware, the White House said.

Seoul is now allowed to possess ballistic missiles with a range of 800 km and payload of 500 kg, but it wants the weight limit raised to 1,000 kg.


Republican senator Ben Sasse is taking aim at Donald Trump's perspective on global trade, characterizing it as dated and out-of-touch, following reports that the president is considering withdrawing from a free trade deal with South Korea.

The Pentagon had said it was "actively" considering the revision.

Signed with the USA in 2001 - the year South Korea joined the MissileTechnology Control Regime (MTCR) - the agreement initially limited Seoul to rockets with a range of just 300 kilometres, due to United States concerns about triggering a regional arms race in Northeast Asia.

According to the South Korean media, in June this year, the South Korean president had discussed doubling the weight limit to 1 ton of warheads during his meeting with Trump.

Previous U.N. penalties have resulted in Pyongyang expressing its displeasure and demonstration of its iron-clad nuclear ambition through more missile tests.

It is, however, to be noted that earlier this week, in response to North Korea's missile launch, Trump said on Twitter that talking to North Korea was "not the answer".

The two leaders pledged to continue to apply strong diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea and to make all necessary preparations to defend against the growing threat by the North, the White House said.

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