The defense chiefs of South Korea and the U.S. have agreed to expand an upcoming joint military exercise and restart their strategic dialogue on extended deterrence.
Seoul's defense ministry said the agreement was reached during talks between Minister Lee Jong-sup and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held in Washington Friday.
The two sides agreed to combine the joint military exercise in the year's second half with South Korea's government-led Ulchi exercise and also continue strengthening the allies' deterrence posture including the deployment of a ballistic missile defense system and U.S. strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula.
They also agreed to resume their high-level Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG) in the near future to help boost joint deterrence and strategic communication.
The two ministers agreed the security condition on the Korean Peninsula was very serious due to North Korea's continued provocations, which they stressed will only strengthen the bilateral alliance.
Austin and Lee also pledged a stern response should the North carry out its seventh nuclear test.
The ministry said the two sides also reaffirmed the agreement to develop their alliance into a "global comprehensive strategic alliance" that contributes to the peace, security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region and the world.