Yoon says S. Korea open to extended deterrence talks with U.S., Japan: interview

President Yoon Suk Yeol has said South Korea is open to holding trilateral consultations with the United States and Japan on extended deterrence, according to an interview published Wednesday.

Yoon made the remark in a written interview with Bloomberg days before he is set to hold a trilateral summit with U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

"Regarding extended deterrence, we are also open to separate consultations among the Republic of Korea, the United States and Japan," Yoon was quoted as saying, referring to South Korea by its formal name.

Extended deterrence refers to the U.S. commitment to defending an ally using all of its military capabilities, including nuclear weapons.

South Korea and the U.S. recently launched the Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) to strengthen the credibility of U.S. extended deterrence as part of an agreement reached by Yoon and Biden during their summit in Washington in April.

Yoon told Bloomberg he expects Friday's trilateral summit will lead to agreement on ways to enhance the three countries' capabilities to respond to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats. The discussions will cover ways to increase trilateral defense exercises, he said, and the three countries will work to operationalize their sharing of missile warning data on North Korea in real time within this year.

"The complete denuclearization of North Korea is a clear and consistent goal of the international community, including the Republic of Korea and the United States," Yoon was quoted as saying. "The international community will never accept North Korea as a nuclear power under any circumstances."

In a notice to reporters, the presidential office clarified that Yoon's remark on being open to trilateral consultations on extended deterrence was in line with the government's "basic stance" until now.

"The issue is not currently under discussion among the three countries, and is not included on the agenda of the Camp David trilateral summit," it said, adding the government is currently focused on firmly establishing the NCG at an early date.

When asked what he hopes to see from the summit in terms of economic cooperation, Yoon said the three countries plan to "further solidify the framework for our cooperation to strengthen the resilience of supply chains."

"Also, we will conduct joint research and enhance cooperation in AI, quantum, space and other key critical and emerging technologies, which will become future growth engines, and we will work together to set global standards," he added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency