The U.S. Navy's top officer told the head of the South Korean Navy on Thursday that the two leaders should communicate "as brothers" amid heightened tensions in the Pacific.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson met with Adm. Jung Ho-sub of South Korea at the Pentagon during Jung's week-long trip to the United States as both nations participate in the Rim of the Pacific multinational exercise.
The meeting took place just a day after U.S. and South Korean officials confirmed North Korea had fired two medium-range ballistic missiles Tuesday evening, one into waters near Japan. The other missile exploded after launch. STRATCOM officials said the missile launches did not pose a threat to North America.
This weapons deployment defied U.N. restrictions and was "strongly" condemned by South Korea.
"It's extremely important as we work together -- as our two navies work together -- that you and I have a personal relationship, that we can call one another up as brothers to work for better ways to collaborate," Richardson said in a statement and audio remarks released by the Navy.
Richardson said he hoped to collaborate on anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures.
"Not only are we finding new ways we can bring our forces together to enhance our peace and stability, we're also reinforcing our personal relationship," he said.
Jung said his first goal of the U.S. visit was to discuss measures to improve defense readiness postures.
"This is so that our [Republic of Korea]/U.S. alliance can remain robust and steadfast in the face of recent challenges from North Korea," he said. "So far, our visit has been very successful."
Jung has also met with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet; and Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Forces Pacific.
He said he planned to visit the Missile Defense Agency and Center for Naval Analysis before his departure.
Since the two leaders last met in Seoul in October 2015, China has also increased its militaristic posture in the South China Sea, most recently vowing to ignore an international tribunal's ruling in favor of the Philippines on a land dispute in the region and announcing plans to hold a naval exercise with Russia, highlighting a strengthening alliance between U.S. geopolitical adversaries.
Jung said he hoped to "share understanding and promote awareness" on South China Sea issues with his U.S. counterpart.