SEOUL, May 30 (Yonhap) -- The top U.S. military commander in South Korea on Tuesday reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to defend its ally, dismissing concerns that the U.S. could trade its security commitment for the defense of its own cities as "not even worth addressing."
U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) Commander Gen. Paul LaCamera made the remarks amid lingering questions over whether Washington would fully act on its commitment to defend South Korea in a contingency as Pyongyang continues to ramp up weapons tests, such as its launch of a purported solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile last month.
"The last thing I would like to say is don't question the United States' commitment, it's ironclad," he said during a forum hosted by the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in central Seoul. "The argument of whether it will trade Seoul for Los Angeles or Washington, D.C., is not even worth addressing."
"The amount of Americans that live here today, the amount of service members that have given their lives in the defense of this nation, have served on this ground, the amount that appear now with our families and other Americans," he said. "Please do not question the United States' commitment."
The remarks come as Washington and Seoul have made efforts to bolster the credibility of the U.S. "extended deterrence" commitment to defend South Korea with all its military capabilities, including nuclear ones.
The two countries' leaders issued the Washington Declaration during their summit last month, in which they agreed to create the Nuclear Consultative Group to discuss nuclear and strategic planning issues.
"We will maintain our commitment to the alliance, which has endured since the Korean War, and never take it for granted," LaCamera said, adding the U.S. will further enhance the visibility of strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula as stated in the Washington Declaration.
He also highlighted the importance of coalitions and cooperation with other countries beyond the alliance, citing recent efforts for security cooperation between the leaders of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan.
"Transforming our alliance from a bilaterally-focused system to one that thinks, operates, trains in joint multinational, interagency and multidomain environments will not only deter the DPRK but other adversaries and competitors as well," he said.
DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.