U.S. President Barack Obama will inform his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye this week of Washington's decision to "reconsider" the current plan to hand over wartime operational control (OPCON) of South Korean troops to Seoul in 2015, informed sources here said Thursday.
In his summit talks with Park in Seoul on Friday afternoon (local time), Obama will reveal Washington's new stance on the sensitive OPCON transfer timetable, they added.
"President Obama will say the current agreement on the 2015 OPCON transition can be reconsidered, given changes in security conditions on the Korean Peninsula," a source told Yonhap News Agency.
The president is also expected to mention the decision if asked about it at a joint press conference with Park following their summit, added the source.
Otherwise, the State Department will issue a separate document on the decision, according to the source.
It would mark Washington's clearest signal yet that it's in favor of Seoul's request for another delay in the OPCON transfer, now slated for December 2015.
"It could represent a big step forward in consultations between the two sides on the issue," another source said. "Related details, for instance, a new target date, will be finally decided at their defense ministerial talks in October."
Speaking to media after talks with Park in South Korea in May last year, Obama said, "We are on track for South Korea to assume operational control for the alliance in 2015."
But South Korea's military later proposed a delay in the OPCON transfer, saying it needs more time to prepare for leading troops in the event of war amid growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. (Yonhap)