US and South Korea to Hold Naval Exercises

By Matt Loffman

May 24, 2010 2:31pm

ABC News' Luis Martinez reports: The United States and South Korea will hold two naval exercises in the "near future" as a result of North Korea's deadly torpedo attack on a South Korean warship. A White House statement issued last night offered full support for South Korea’s announcement of trade restrictions against North Korea in response to their allegation that North Korea sank the warship Cheosan, killing 46 sailors.  It also said United States’ support for “South Korea’s defense is unequivocal” and added that President Obama had directed American military commanders to coordinate closely with their South Korean counterparts to ensure readiness and deter future aggression.  The statement said both countries would “explore further enhancements to our joint posture on the Peninsula as part of our ongoing dialogue.” Today, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the U.S. and South Korea would be holding two military exercises with South Korea in the “near future.”  He said the U.S. has committed to holding an anti-submarine exercise and is in discussions about conducting a maritime training  interdiction exercise.  “Those initiatives are a result of the findings of this recent  incident and again from our almost constant consultation with our Korean counterparts,” he said.  Whitman said details were still likely being worked out so he could not provide a timetable or location as to where these exercises might occur, namely the western coast where the Cheosan was sunk. Whitman said the exercises were “important for the United States military, in light of this particular incident” and that both exercises will "continue to build on a strong foundation of cooperation and deterrence.” The interdiction exercises would be carried out under the umbrella of the U.S. Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) that it conducts with other countries around the world to monitor the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. “We think this is an area where working with the Republic of Korea we can hone some skills and increase capabilities. That’s why we’re doing it,” said Whitman.  As to the readiness of US forces on the Korean Peninsula, Whitman said “our forces are always at a constant state of readiness.”  State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters today that he was not aware of any “change in our military posture,” but said “we will continue to review the implications of this provocative act by North Korea and will evaluate if any changes are necessary." The White House said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would travel to Seoul on May 26 to meet with South Korean President Lee.  It also announced that Defense Secretary Gates is in “close contact” with South Korean Defense Minister Kim and will meet with him when he visits Singapore in early June to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual meeting of Asian senior defense officials.  – Luis Martinez

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