Envoy: U.S. wants South Korea to introduce advanced reconnaissance assets

Yonhap News Agency
Acting U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Marc Knapper speaks at a press conference at his residence in Seoul on Thursday. Pool Photo by Yonhap
Acting U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Marc Knapper speaks at a press conference at his residence in Seoul on Thursday. Pool Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, South Korea, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- The United States wants South Korea to adopt America's finest military equipment, such as Aegis radar systems and P8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, to step up deterrence against North Korea, the acting U.S. ambassador to South Korea said Thursday.

Marc Knapper also welcomed Seoul's recent agreement with China to get ties back on track following their dispute over the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.


He made the remarks during a news conference to explain the results of the summit between Presidents Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump in Seoul Tuesday.

The leaders agreed during the meeting to begin discussing South Korea's acquisitions and development of military reconnaissance assets. Trump told reporters that South Korea "will be ordering billions of dollars' worth of equipment, and we've already approved some of those orders."

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"Some of the things Korea has purchased recently would be things like F-35s, which is the best fighter we have," Knapper said when asked about details of military procurement plans.

"But also we want Korea to have, too, things like Apache helicopters, things like Aegis radar systems for naval vessels and some of the things coming, probably still under discussion ... will be things like P8 aircraft, which is like an anti-submarine warfare aircraft," the acting ambassador said.

"It's something Korea needs to make a decision on at some point. We will make a decision at some point about which plane it would require. We certainly hope that it's the P8," he said, referring to the allies' shared desire for "strong deterrence" and for Korea having "the best possible defensive systems available to it."

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The acting ambassador lauded the recent summit and Trump's two-day visit to Seoul as "a huge success."

"It's clear that [the two presidents] really have developed a good friendship, good rapport. They really spoke freely and easily to each other. ... It's great that they reached the point now," he said.

He once again clarified the United States' North Korea policy under the Trump administration. The two leaders talked at length about "how can we do a better job with the ultimate goal of ensuring that we have the strongest deterrence possible."

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"That is what we believe not only preserves peace but also sends a strong message to North Korea that we are serious, but also we do not seek war. We seek a peaceful resolution to these issues."

Knapper also welcomed the Oct. 31 agreement between South Korea and China to mend bilateral relations frayed by the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system.

"We welcome a return to normal between Korea and China in terms of relations. China letting up on its economic retaliations, this is something that for months we have been publicly and privately saying to the Chinese," he said, calling the past retaliatory action "inappropriate and unfair."

"Certainly a better and more productive relationship between China and the Republic of Korea will help to support China playing a more positive role" in the denuclearization goal, the diplomat said.

Also extolling Seoul's recent action to blacklist 18 entities doing business with North Korea, Knapper said, "It's another good, concrete gesture on the part of the Moon government to show that we are truly in lockstep when it comes to pressure against North Korea."

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