A total of 12 F-16 Falcon fighters are to be deployed to a U.S. military base in South Korea, according to Yonhap. Others strategic assets are to follow, according to Seoul’s joint chiefs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Matthew Lotz)
Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The United States and South Korea are working on defense capabilities ahead of U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis' visit to Seoul and Tokyo.
According to local network KBS, South Korea's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Lee Sun-jin spoke with U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by phone on Wednesday, Seoul time.
The two sides agreed they would carry out an existing accord, reached in 2016, that the U.S. military should deploy strategic assets permanently on a rotational basis in response to growing threats from North Korea, Seoul said.
The 20-minute phone conversation took place 24 hours after Mattis and his Seoul counterpart Han Min-koo discussed defense plans, including the agreement to deploy the U.S. missile defense system THAAD.
Seoul's joint chiefs believes North Korea could carry out provocations around the time of former leader Kim Jong Il's birth anniversary in February, or around the time of joint U.S.-South Korea military drills in March.
The confirmation of an existing agreement comes at a time when the U.S. Pacific Air Force Command is planning to deploy more fighter jets to the Korean peninsula.
A total of 12 F-16 Falcon fighters are to arrive at the U.S. military base in Osan, South Korea.
According to the Pacific Air Force Command, more than 200 troops and 12 F-16s from the Air National Guard in Atlantic City, N.J., are to be deployed to Osan Air Force Base in February.
The fighter jets will be deployed to check the combined operations capability of joint forces, and to deter North Korea, according to Yonhap.