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U.S., S. Korea agree to strengthen defense against N. Korean threat

U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korea's Acting President
Hwang Kyo Ahn agreed Sunday to work together to better strengthen
their defense against "the North Korean threat."

The two leaders spoke by telephone for the first time since
Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20 and Hwang's assumption of the role of
acting president on Dec. 9, and pledged to "advance mutual security
and prosperity," according to a White House statement.

It said that Trump reaffirmed the United States' "ironclad
commitment to defend the ROK, including through the provision of
extended deterrence, suing the full range of military capabilities,"
referring to South Korea by its formal name, the Republic of Korea.

The statement also mentioned an upcoming visit to South Korea by
U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, adding that the occasion would
"demonstrate the importance of the U.S.-ROK alliance."

Mattis is expected to visit South Korea and Japan in early

During his presidential campaign, Trump demanded South Korea and
Japan should pay a greater share of the costs associated with
stationing U.S. forces in their countries.

There are currently around 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South

Hwang, who is also South Korea's prime minister, took on the
role of acting president following the impeachment of President Park
Geun Hye in December, after she was implicated in an
influence-peddling scandal centered on her close friend.

Trump spoke with Park in the days following his election
victory, at which time he again pledged U.S. support for South Korea.

The White House statement said Hwang congratulated Trump on his
inauguration, while Trump wished South Korean people a happy Lunar
New Year, which began on Saturday. (Jan. 29)