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Senior US official warns NKorea, reassures SKorea

Monday - 3/18/2013, 3:34am  ET

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, right, listesn to U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter during their meeting at Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, March 18, 2013. Carter is traveling to Asia to meet with U.S. allies and visit here on the second leg of his four-nation Asian tour. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- A senior U.S. military official visiting Seoul is sending a message to both Koreas: warning Pyongyang over recent threats and reassuring South Korea that military backing won't be hurt by a U.S. budget debate.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter told reporters Monday that Pyongyang's threats would only deepen Washington's defense commitment to Seoul. He said that includes a "nuclear umbrella" security guarantee for Seoul, which doesn't have atomic weapons.

Ashton said deep U.S. budget cuts won't alter Pentagon efforts to make South Korean defense a priority.

Pyongyang is angry over U.S.-South Korean war games and U.N. sanctions meant to punish it for its third nuclear test. It has threatened nuclear attacks on Washington, though it isn't believed to have the weapons needed to do so.


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