Pentagon chief says in favor of placing missiles in Asia

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper meets with Egypt’s Defense Minister General Mohamed Zaki at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., July 29, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

SYDNEY (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Saturday that he was in favor of placing ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles in Asia relatively soon, a day after the United States withdrew from a landmark arms control treaty.

“Yeah, I would like to,” Esper said, when asked whether he was considering placing such missiles in Asia.

“I would prefer (in) months … but these things tend to take longer than you expect,” he told reporters traveling with him to Sydney when asked about a timeline for when the missiles could be deployed.

The United States formally left the intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia on Friday after determining Moscow was violating the treaty, an accusation that the Kremlin has denied.

Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Tom Hogue

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