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''US allows S Korea to extend missile range to 550 km''

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SEOUL (KYODO): The United States has allowed South Korea to extend its missile ranges up to 550 kilometers from the current maximum range of 300 km, enabling missile launchers in northern areas of South Korea to strike any targets in North Korea, a Seoul daily reported Monday.

"(At bilateral talks) The US held up its position South Korea should maintain the current maximum range, but the US agreed on extending the range to 550 km to better cope with North Korea's improving missile capabilities," a senior South Korean official told the Joong Ang Ilbo.

At the talks with the United States, South Korea demanded its missile range be extended up to 1,000 km, but the two sides eventually agreed on the range of 550 km, the official said.

The United States had shown a lukewarm response to a South Korean request its missile range be extended to 1,000 km, citing a possible negative reaction from China and Russia because some targets in those countries would fall within South Korea's strike range.

The agreement on South Korea's missile range will be made public at a high-level meeting involving chiefs of foreign and defense ministries from both sides set for mid-June in Washington, the official said.

Meanwhile, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman declined to confirm the newspaper report.

"South Korea and the US have been holding talks on better responding to North Korea's missile threats. Nothing has been fixed yet and also the issue has not been taken up as an agenda for the upcoming two-plus-two meeting," spokesman Kim Min Seok said in a press briefing.

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US  S Korea  Missile  
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