US condemns North Korean missile launches
Seoul: US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter on Friday condemned North Korea's recent missile launches, and reiterated Washington's role in the region to counter "threats" from Pyongyang.
"North Korean threats puts the security of the Korean peninsula and the entire region in danger," Carter said at a press conference, referring to the launching of short-range missiles by North Korea, the most recent of which was on Tuesday, according to the Efe news agency.
The US official also assured that his country would strengthen and diversify its balancing role in the Asia Pacific region.
Carter on Friday met his South Korean counterpart Han Min-koo, and discussed ways of strengthening joint military capacities to dissuade North Korea, which seems to be pursuing technologies to manufacture intercontinental missiles and nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon chief felt that Pyongyang would persist in its provocations as the US continued to reinforce its joint defence initiatives with South Korea to ensure stability in the region.
However, Carter denied that he spoke with Han about the deployment of the USTHAAD missile interception system in South Korea, a topic that has generated serious controversy.
Carter met US troops stationed at the Osan air base, situated 70 km from Seoul, on Thursday and made a courtesy call to the South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Friday.
The US defence secretary, on his first official visit to Asia since he was sworn in on February 17, arrived in Seoul on Thursday from Japan, and will leave for Washington on Saturday.