The South Korean Navy said Friday its chief has met with senior U.S. Navy officials in the past week to discuss maritime security issues and strengthen naval ties between the two countries.

During his week-long trip to the U.S., South Korea's Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jung Ho-Sub met U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and other senior navy officials, and discussed ways to enhance joint maritime defense against growing threats from North Korea, a Navy spokesman said.

The U.S. Navy officials whom Jung met include Tom Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Forces of the U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP) and Rear Adm. Jim Kilby, commander of San Diego's Naval Surface Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC), according to a statement available on the official U.S. Navy website.

Rear Adm. Jim Kilby said in the statement it was great to meet with Jung ahead of the two allies' annual combined exercise, Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), which will begin later this month in South Korea. SMWDC also participates in the joint military drill that takes place annually amid evolving nuclear and missile threats from Pyongyang.


"Trust and cooperation are the foundation upon which successful international maritime partnerships are built. And our continued bilateral and multilateral exercises only strengthen our alliance as our two Navies move forward toward stability and security in the Indo-Asia Pacific region," Kilby said in the statement.

It was the first time for Jung to make a trip to the U.S. since he took office in February last year. He returns to Seoul on Sunday, according to the Navy.

SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap)