U.S. reaffirms 'nuclear umbrella' for S. Korea before Obama's Berlin speech

SEOUL, June 20 (Yonhap) -- The United States reaffirmed its pledge to preserve a "nuclear umbrella" protecting South Korea before a speech in Berlin by U.S. President Barack Obama, which called for slashing the number of deployed nuclear weapons, a diplomatic source said Thursday.

In his speech made in Berlin on Wednesday, Obama said he wants to negotiate with Russia to cut deployed nuclear weapons by up to a third.

"Despite President Obama's proposal for reducing nuclear weapons, the U.S. side conveyed its stance that it will continue to provide a nuclear umbrella to South Korea," the source said on the condition of anonymity.

Some 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

In a regular press briefing on Thursday, Seoul's foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young "welcomed" Obama's proposal and took note of the reaffirmation of offering "strong and credible extended nuclear deterrence to allies."

"We will continue close consultations with the U.S. side over extended nuclear deterrence," Cho said.

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