South Korea should bolster its missile defence capabilities before the country deploys a US anti-missile system to counter growing threats from North Korea, the military chief in Seoul said. The US and South Korea are reportedly looking to expedite the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system near Seoul in the wake of the recent nuclear test conducted by the Kim Jong-un regime in Pyongyang.

Genera Lee Sun-jin, the chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), was speaking on Friday, 14 October, in Washington, where he took part in Seoul and Washington's Military Committee Meeting, held on Thursday with Genera Joseph Dunford, his American counterpart. Lee is also set to discuss three-way cooperation with the US and Japan on Friday.

A statement issued by the South Korean military following the meeting said that the two military chiefs agreed "to continuously develop effective response measures in order to deter, and if necessary, respond to additional provocations from North Korea", Yonhap news agency reported.

Lee also stressed on strengthening a tailored deterrence strategy and collaboration among allies against North Korean submarine-launched ballistic missiles, the statement added.

Dunford reiterated the US's commitment to protect the Korean peninsula.

The two military chiefs, for the first time, paid a visit to the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington. Lee also handed Dunford an "Ambassador For Peace" medal for the latter's father, Joseph F Dunford Sr. The senior Dunford was a Korean War veteran, who participated in the war and also played a key role as a young Marine.

"Your sacrifices 66 years ago helped the Republic of Korea become what it is today," Lee reportedly said of the war veterans in the early 1950s. The US had fought alongside South Korea in that war. "We will overcome North Korea's nuclear and missile threats with the strength of the Korea-U.S. alliance forged in your blood and sweat," he added.

Thaad missile
South Korean military chief, General Lee Sun-jin, wants the country to bolster missile defence capabilities before Thaad deployment to better tackle North Korean threats - File photo