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U.S., S. Korea To OK Joint Defense Exercises

U.S. and South Korea Marines practice rappelling during mountain warfare training in March 2010. Ahn Young-joon/AP hide caption

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Ahn Young-joon/AP

The U.S. and South Korea are expected to approve a set of joint military exercises next week, when Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travel to Seoul, to meet with their counterparts there.

The "2+2 meeting" will commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Korean War. According to the Department of State, they will also meet with Lee Myung-bak, South Korea's president.

For months, U.S. and South Korean officials have been weighing how to respond to an attack by North Korea on a South Korean ship, NPR's Rachel Martin reports.

Department of Defense officials say the exercises will be defensive in nature, but they're meant to act as a deterrent to North Korea. They will include naval and air demonstrations, with a wide range of assets.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell says that, if the exercises are approved, they will send a clear message to North Korea: The alliance between the U.S. and South Korea is as strong as ever.

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