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Korea, U.S. to discuss wartime control transfer plan

Senior South Korean and U.S. military officials will meet this week for a high-level defense meeting in Seoul, the defense ministry said Monday, which is widely expected to address another delay in Washington’s planned transition of wartime operational control to Seoul.

The Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday in Seoul as the two countries are preparing to transfer OPCON to South Korea in December 2015 and draft a new joint military structure.

The biannual meeting takes place at a time when calls have grown to postpone the transfer of OPCON following North Korea’s third nuclear test in February, and its war-like threats against Seoul and Washington earlier this year.

“The upcoming meeting will evaluate security threats posed by North Korea and issues related to OPCON transfer preparations,” a senior ministry official said, asking anonymity.

The defense meeting, launched in 2011, is an overarching structure that includes a series of alliance-related meetings such as the Extended Deterrence Policy Committee, the Strategic Alliance 2015 Working Group (SAWG) and the Security Policy Initiative (SPI).

Deputy Minister of Defense Lim Kwan-bin will meet his American counterpart, Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia David Helvey, the ministry said.

The issue of wartime control resurfaced earlier this month after a top American official said during an interview with Yonhap News Agency that the South Korean government had requested another delay in the OPCON transition following the North Korean provocations this spring.

South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin admitted he had requested the U.S. government to reconsider the date of the planned 2015 OPCON transition in light of growing threats posed by North Korea.

The ministry said the two sides will continue to discuss the issue in an upcoming Security Consultative Meeting between defense chiefs of the two nations slated for October in Seoul. (Yonhap News)
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