South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Thursday made a visit to U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys or Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. “I can’t emphasize the significance of stringent deterrence based on the military alliance between Seoul and Washington and combined defense readiness amid serious international circumstances around the Korean Peninsula such as Pyongyang’s ICBM firing,” Yoon said. His message seemingly intended to stress how firm the KORUS alliance stays despite growing tensions over the region due to North Korea’s ICBM provocations and signs of nuclear tests prior to Yoon’s presidential inauguration. It was the first instance that a president-elect visited a garrison of the US Armed Forces in Korea (USFK).
On his trip to Camp Humphreys on Thursday morning, Yoon made sure that combined defense readiness stays intact. He also discussed regional security issues with Commander of ROK/US Combined Forces Command (CFC) Paul Joseph LaCamera and CFC Deputy Commander Kim Seung-kyum. Yoon said, “I will help strengthen the KORUS alliance and greater deterrence and response readiness against Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threats,” according to Bae Hyun-jin, the spokesperson of the president-elect. Also, the president-elect stressed that Camp Humphreys or the heart of the KORUS alliance is the first base that he visited as a president-elect. “Pyeongtaek symbolizes our robust KORUS alliance,” Yoon wrote in a guest book.
Putting a special emphasis on the significance of the KORUS alliance during his presidential campaign, Yoon expressed his gratitude toward the USFK, saying, “South Korea would never enjoy prosperity and freedom today without all the contributions and sacrifices made by those who fought for the country before us.” In response, Commander LaCamera said that it is a delinquency of duties to fail to play a role in ensuring stability on the peninsula, emphasizing the significance of “iron-clad alliance.” According to reports, Yoon had a 20-minute private talk with Mr. LaCamera after the official meeting at the request of the commander.
Yoon’s steps taken to ensure security imply that North Korea’s threats are growing to an unacceptable degree, according to experts. U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Kim Sung projected on Wednesday (local time) that Pyongyang may conduct nuclear testing in celebration of Kim Il Sung’s birthday on April 15, concerned of any provocation happening on that day. He specified that such provocations may involve missile launches or nuclear tests. Highlighting that Washington is preparing for Pyongyang’s severe provocations, Yoon said that discussions are progressing between Seoul and Washington or among Seoul, Washington and Tokyo to take measures for greater deterrence. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday in a U.S. House Foreign Services Committee hearing that Washington will take actions that prove a reliable level of deterrence against any attack from North Korea, referring to a meeting with President-elect Yoon’s representative for policy consultation between South Korea and the United States.
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