Activists battled riot police in front of South Korea’s Ministry of Defense as US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter arrived in Seoul. The protesters oppose the deployment of a US missile system on the Korean Peninsula and view Washington policy as provocative.
The US has been pressuring South Korea for the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or THAAD. Both sides, however, deny official talks on the issue are taking place. But analysts believe negotiations are going on behind closed doors.
The US military chief said where the new missile system might go has not been determined. The US has already completed missile site surveys in South Korea. Carter’s visit coincides with ongoing joint US-South Korea military drills, fomenting tension in the region.
Carter’s visit this week comes after Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsy’s visit and precedes an expected tour by Secretary of State John Kerry. But even with these top officials clamoring to the region as part of Obama’s so-called pivot to Asia, Washington seems unable to stem the decline of its influence here.