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


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

toggle caption
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.