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Politics

Russia's top general warns against US-South Korea exercises

Gerasimov says allied show of force off peninsula promotes 'instability'

Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russia's chief of general staff, shakes hands with Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, right, during their meeting in Tokyo on Monday.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Joint military exercises by the U.S. and South Korea are detrimental to resolving the standoff with the North as they create instability in the region, Russia's military chief warned Monday. 

During his visit to Tokyo, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian general staff, agreed with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera that North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile development is unacceptable.

But Gerasimov insisted during the meeting that the problem can be resolved solely through diplomatic avenues, rebuffing Onodera's calls to step up pressure on North Korea. Military exercises conducted around the Korean Peninsula will make the situation "unstable," said the general.

Gerasimov and Onodera also discussed the Aegis Ashore, the U.S.-made land-based missile shield that Japan plans to deploy. Gerasimov expressed concern over the possibility of the U.S. managing the system.

"The Japan Self-Defense Forces will manage" the Aegis Ashore, Onodera replied. The shield "is entirely for Japan's defense," he emphasized.

Both sides agreed to further bilateral defense exchanges. The deep cooperation between Tokyo and Moscow will play a major role in security worldwide, not just in the Asia-Pacific region, said Gerasimov. The third round of "two-plus-two" talks between the two countries' defense and foreign ministers could occur next year.

Gerasimov also spoke with Katsutoshi Kawano, Japan's chief of staff for the Self-Defense Forces. They shared their views on North Korea and the situation in Syria, and agreed on expanding bilateral exchanges between the armed forces.

Gerasimov's visit to Japan, the first by a Russian chief of staff in seven years, was agreed to by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a September summit. Oleg Salyukov, commander-in-chief of Russia's land forces, came to Japan last month to speak with a group led by Koji Yamazaki, chief of staff of Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force.

(Nikkei)

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