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U.S. reaffirms commitment for S. Korea

WASHINGTON, March 28 (UPI) — The United States has reaffirmed its commitment to South Korea as North Korean threats increase tensions in the region, the Pentagon says.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed the commitment in a phone call to South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, the Defense Department said in a statement released Thursday.

“Secretary Hagel and Minister Kim reaffirmed the strength of the alliance, which has been, and continues to be, instrumental in maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula,” said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.

In the Wednesday night conversation, Hagel highlighted the additional military support provided to Seoul as a sign of the U.S. commitment to defend South Korea. He also mentioned a recently signed counter-provocation plans recently signed by the two allies set a up a procedure to improve coordination in the event of a North Korean attack.

Army Gen. James D. Thurman also received a vote of confidence from Hagel for the steps the commander had taken to integrate command and control functions with the South Koreans.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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