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USFK chief says he expects dialogue with North on armisticeBy 윤민식
Published : May 12, 2016 - 19:56
The new commander of the United States military forces in South Korea said Thursday he expects resumption of talks and coordination with North Korea during his first visit to the frontline region separating the two sides.
The Joint Security Area (JSA), the inter-Korean truce village where South and North Korean soldiers are standing face-to-face, was the choice for Gen. Vincent Brooks' first field inspection as the top commander of the 28,000-strong U.S. Forces Korea.
"Each time I come back (here), it reminds me of how quickly things can change on the Korean Peninsula and why it is that we must be ready all the time and remain strong," Brooks, who took command last month, said in front of an observation post inside the JSA. The officer had served in South Korea in the past during his long military career.
"It also reminds me that as we are in the military armistice controlled areas, there's a need to continue dialogue and coordination (with North Korea)," the general, clad in a combat uniform, noted.
"We look forward to the time that (talks) can resume again," he said, expressing hopes on talks with the North on the context of the armistice which ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
He also reasserted his pledge to maintain strong combat readiness against North Korea as his inauguration came amid unusually heightened inter-Korean tension following North Korea's nuclear test and a long-range rocket in January and February, respectively.
"In this position, I am certainly committed to maintaining strength of the alliance and also protecting the armistice as well as we can," the four-star general said.
During the visit, the commander also met with troops of both the U.S. and South Korean side and commended their readiness posture.
"Their combined nature even at this (JSA) battalion level is reflective of the (South Korea-U.S.) Combined Forces Command all the way up to the highest level and it symbolizes the strength of the alliance," he added.
Accompanying Brooks on the inspection, Gen. Lee Sun-jin, the chief of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, ordered the troops to "maintain perfect readiness posture in the spirit of their blood alliance."
On the subject of talks with Pyongyang that go beyond the armistice agreement touched on by the U.S. general, both South Korea and the U.S. have made clear on numerous occasions that the North must make a sincere effort to denuclearize itself before any meaningful headway can begin. (Yonhap)
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