Washington and Seoul agree to maintain a strong and extended deterrence against North Korea, expressing concern over rising threats posed by the isolated nation's nuclear programme.
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her South Korean counterpart have vowed to support efforts to maintain a strong deterrence against North Korea and achieve its denuclearisation.
A joint statement was issued after Pelosi met South Korea's National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo in Seoul on Wednesday, during which they expressed concerns over the North's evolving nuclear and missile threats.
Pelosi arrived in South Korea late on Wednesday following a brief stop in Taiwan, and met US embassy officials in Seoul earlier on Thursday before talks with Kim and other lawmakers.
Pelosi spoke about the bilateral alliance, forged in blood during the 1950-53 Korean War, and legislative efforts to support a push to boost ties.
“We also come to say to you that a friendship, a relationship that began from urgency and security, many years ago, has become the warmest of friendships,” Pelosi said in a joint news conference with Kim. “We want to advance security, economy and governance in the inter-parliamentary way.”
Neither Pelosi nor Kim took questions from journalists.
Later in the day, Pelosi plans to visit the Joint Security Area near the heavily fortified inter-Korean border, patrolled together by American-led UN Command and North Korea, a South Korean official said.
She would be the highest-level US official to visit the area after former President Donald Trump, who met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un there in 2019.
When asked, “What gives me hope?” I always say: “I have hope in young people.”— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 4, 2022
It was a joy to meet with our next generation of leaders in Seoul today. They are our future – and our future is bright. pic.twitter.com/MzJWN3obiL
North hits back at US
Earlier on Wednesday, North Korea warned it will "never tolerate" the United States' criticism of the isolated country's nuclear programme.
The North's permanent mission to the United Nations issued the statement as diplomats gathered in New York for a month-long UN conference to review the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
During the meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the North "continues to expand its unlawful nuclear programme" and "is preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test."
In response, the North called Washington the "kingpin of nuclear proliferation" and said it would not allow any encroachment of its sovereign rights.
"It is the peak of busy blaming that the United States alleges somebody's 'nuclear threats' given the fact that it is the kingpin of nuclear proliferation," North Korea said in the statement.
The North also said it pulled out of the non-proliferation treaty a long time ago, so nobody had the right to impinge on the country's right to self-defence.
Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country was ready to mobilise its nuclear war deterrent and counter any US military clash.