S. Korea, US to beef up defense against North provocation

SEOUL - The United States and South Korea are working on additional steps to deter future North Korean provocations, including advancing their "readiness capabilities" in disputed west-coast waters, the allies' defense chiefs said on Friday.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula hit the highest point in decades last year when a South Korean navy ship was sunk in a torpedo attack Seoul blamed on Pyongyang. The North denies involvement in the incident that killed 46 sailors.
The North later in the year shelled a South Korean island, killing four people and prompting the South to return fire.
Seoul's response, criticized at home for being too weak and late, triggered a review of its defense operational guideline to allow a tougher retaliation to similar events in future.
"The (Korean) Minister and the (US) Secretary reaffirmed the need to advance the military deterrence capabilities of the Alliance in a more practical and concrete manner and also to improve response readiness in the event of a North Korean provocation," a joint statement by the defense chiefs said.
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