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International relations

U.S. will maintain troop levels in South Korea, Austin says

Allied defense chiefs meet to update strategy, sending signal to China

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, left, and South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook met Dec. 2 for the allies' first regular top-level defense meeting of the Biden administration.   © Kyodo

SEOUL/WASHINGTON -- The U.S. and South Korea agreed Thursday to maintain current American troop levels during their first regular top-level defense talks under President Joe Biden, and approved updated guidance to respond to North Korea's nuclear and missile development.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with South Korean counterpart Suh Wook at the 53rd Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul, as both sides sought to reinforce the alliance and smooth over the friction in the relationship under previous U.S. President Donald Trump.

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