South Korea agreed to bolster its military by procuring and developing advanced US military weapons to counter North Korea when President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York on Thursday.
“They agreed that maintaining superior military capabilities to overwhelm the North is critical,” Korea JoongAng Daily reported a Moon spokesman as saying in a briefing following the summit. “In addition to the procurement projects, the two leaders agreed that the US military will expand rotational deployments of strategic assets to the South and neighboring areas,” the spokesman added.
But a senior Moon aide said no discussion took place between the two leaders on what specific systems will be purchased. Moon, among other things, has publicly said he wants the South to build nuclear submarines with US help.
JoongAng said the two leaders agreed to continue their discussions in November when Trump visits South Korea.
Contracts are reportedly already underway for South Korea to purchase US F-35A stealth fighter jets, Patriot-3 missiles, Aegis-class destroyers and Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft. Moon’s meeting with Trump indicates that South Korea is adding more US weapons to its shopping list.
The expansion of rotational deployment to South Korea indicates that more US B-1B bombers, F-35B stealth fighters, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered submarines will visit the country on a regular basis.
Japan press coverage slammed
A South Korean official also criticized Japanese media coverage of a trilateral meeting that took place in New York between Trump, Moon and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Japanese journalists covering the meeting said that Trump reacted badly to Moon’s decision this week to go ahead with plans to send humanitarian aid to North Korea.
“Japanese media reported that leaders of the United States and Japan spoke negatively about Korea’s decision to offer US$8 million to help North Korea’s vulnerable population,” Yoon Young-chan, senior presidential press secretary, said. “An official accompanying Abe was quoted as saying that Trump was extremely angry. But a Korean official who attended the summit said the reports are completely groundless and there seemed to be an intentional distortion.”