US defense chief calls for pressure on N Korea, Iran
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US defense chief calls for pressure on N Korea, Iran

Esper received the red-carpet treatment during his visit to South Korea this week. In his meeting with his South Korean counterpart, he highlighted the expectations that Seoul would maintain a firm position on Washington’s favored sanction policy toward Pyongyang.  The US is seeking a significant increase in Seoul’s share of the cost of deploying American troops to South Korea. The two countries are now engaged in military drills which generate tensions with North Korea. Experts suggest the US hard line does not fit South Korean strategy toward Pyongyang, hence, generating friction. Esper also formally asked South Korea to send troops to join a US-led maritime force in the Strait of Hormuz off the coast of Iran. In response, the South Korean defense minister said Seoul was considering various options. South Korea and the United States often put forth a united front in diplomatic circles, while behind the scenes, there are very different perspectives and policies. The US reliance on sanctions against North Korea may be wearing thin here, where engagement is seen as the path toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and stable peace.

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