Defense ministers of South Korea, the United States and Japan are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Asia Security Summit in Singapore late this month, a Seoul official said Sunday, with expected discussions on cooperation in dealing with the North Korean nuclear program.
"South Korean, U.S. and Japanese defense ministers have met annually during the Asia Security Summit, and this year is expected to be no exception, considering the North's nuclear provocations,"
the official said. "Specific topics of the meeting are not currently in discussion," the official at the Seoul defense ministry added.
The official said it was unclear whether the defense ministers would discuss signing a military information sharing pact, a sensitive issue for Seoul given the ongoing diplomatic tension with Tokyo over history and territory rows.
"The issue is still in the stage of internal discussion within the (South Korean) government," he said.
Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin will represent the South Korean delegation to the Asia Security Summit slated for May 30-June 1.
The government is also pushing for one-on-one meetings with U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Chang Wanquan during the summit.
One of the likely major topics in talks with the U.S. is delaying the transfer of wartime operational control of South Korean troops to Seoul from Washington, scheduled for next year, the ministry official said.
"Because the two countries' presidents agreed during their summit meeting on April 25 to reconsider the command transfer, their defense ministers will review the progress made so far in the negotiations," the official said.
In the South Korea-China defense ministers' meeting, if held, the two countries will address North Korea's potential move for another nuclear test, the official said.
Seoul currently has no plans for a separate meeting with Japan, he said. (Yonhap)