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Mullen feels 'urgency' about US-SKorea-Japan defence ties

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US Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff addresses the media during a press avail at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Photo: JCS

TOKYO (AFP): The top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, said on Thursday he feels a "real sense of urgency" about building up three-way defence ties with South Korea and Japan to deter North Korea.

The United States has conducted separate military manoeuvres with its allies South Korea and Japan since North Korea ramped up regional tensions with its deadly November 23 artillery attack on a South Korean border island.

Mullen said in Seoul Wednesday that he had high hopes for pacifist Japan's participation in US-South Korean drills, to promote regional stability and security after North Korea's bombardment killed four people on the island.

Asked about the comment in Tokyo Thursday, he said: "I do have a real sense of urgency about addressing the potential in terms of the Korean peninsula that is much better addressed with all of us together, in terms of showing strength and getting to a point where we can deter North Korean behaviour."

"That benefits all of us," added Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after talks with Japan's Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa.

The US and Japan have been key security allies since the end of World War II. Japan hosts US bases while its own Self Defence Forces are constrained by a pacifist constitution that bars offensive military action.

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