Chief of the US Army is slated to visit South Korea this week, Seoul’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday. General Mark Milley will make a three-day visit to South Korea from Wednesday, meeting his South Korean counterpart on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported citing a senior official as saying.
Milley will receive an update on plans to deploy one Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) battery on South Korean soil, his office said. It would mark his second visit to South Korea since he took office in August 2015. High-level US army official’s visit to South Korea would come amid heightened tensions surrounding Seoul and Washington’s abrupt decision last month to house one THAAD batteryby the end of next year.
Objections from civic group activists and opposition lawmakers to the US missile shield are getting louder at home, while China and Russia have strongly opposed the THAAD deployment as its X-band radar can snoop on Chinese and Russian territories. If deployed, it would escalate the already heightened tensions in Northeast Asia as arms race is expected.
Although the decision to deploy THAAD was a move to squeeze the increasingly isolated North Korea China worries the system’s radar will be able to track its military capabilities. Russia also opposed the deployment on similar grounds. South Korea and the United States have said THAAD would only be used in defence against North Korean ballistic missiles.
South Korea also recently warned the North that all attempts to provoke and intimidate the South would be counter-productive. “The more efforts (the North) makes, the deeper the country’s isolation in the international community will be and the bigger its economic problems will be,” South Korean President Park Geun-Hye said.