Pentagon Announces New Troop Deployment to South Korea
The Pentagon has announced the deployment of an additional 800 troops to South Korea, along with combat tanks and other military hardware, as Washington seeks to counter any regional threats from North Korea.
Tuesday's deployment announcement came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in Washington with his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se. Kerry used the meeting to assure Yun of Washington's commitment to South Korea's nuclear defense, in his words, "so that we are prepared to face any threat."
Kerry said the two diplomats are "deeply focused on the challenge of North Korea, particularly with events that have taken place in recent weeks" in Pyongyang.
His comments appeared to reference a recent political purge that included the execution of the uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The killing in December of Jang Song Thaek, a powerful member of the politburo, is seen by some Western analysts as a move by Kim to consolidate power, and by others as evidence of political instability within the North Korean hierarchy.
Chinese, Russian Vessels Break Free from Antarctic Ice
Reports from Antarctica say a Chinese icebreaker and a Russian research vessel broke free Tuesday from thick ice, with both vessels moving toward open waters.
China's official Xinhua news agency, reporting from on board the Xue Long, said the ship reached open waters late Tuesday Beijing time after spending nearly a week icebound. The breaker became trapped and isolated after using one of its helicopters to rescue passengers from the stranded Russian research ship Akademik Shokalskiy.
The Russian vessel left New Zealand November 28 trying to recreate Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's century-old voyage to Antarctica, before getting stuck December 24. The Chinese breaker got stuck after rescuing the Russian vessel's 52 passengers.
Authorities said late Tuesday the services of U.S. Coast Guard ice breaker Polar Star, dispatched earlier this week to help, were no longer needed. The ship will now continue on its original resupply mission to a key U.S. base on the frozen continent.