The top U.S. military commander in South Korea on Wednesday offered full support for South Korea in case of future North Korean provocations, an official said.
Army Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), attended the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff’s assessment of its operational situations and was briefed on South Korean forces’ postures and recent movements in the North Korean military, a JCS official said.
Thurman and South Korean Army Gen. Jung Seung-jo, the JCS chairman, exchanged opinions on coordinated responses by the allies to potential North Korean provocations, the official added.
“At the meeting, Commander Thurman said the U.S. forces will offer active support for South Korean forces if North Korea provokes again,” the official told reporters. “He also said the allies should send a strong message to North Korea so that the North won‘t launch provocations again.”
According to the official, Jung said Thurman’s presence at the meeting displayed the allies‘ strong determination to quickly and sternly strike back at North Korea in the event of future provocations.
Their meeting came on the first anniversary of North Korea’s shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island. The JCS official said Thurman offered his condolences to the surviving families of two Marines and two civilians who were killed in the attack, the first of its kind on South Korean territory since the 1950-53 Korean War.
Also at the meeting, the two generals signed a preliminary paper on developing a joint counter-provocation plan between the two countries. The JCS official said this should help the allies meet their goal of completing the full joint plan by the end of this year.
In addition to some 650,000 South Korean troops, about 28,500 U.S. soldiers are stationed throughout South Korea, a legacy of the Korean War. The conflict ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, and left the two Koreas technically at war. (Yonhap News)