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Defense chief calls for close cooperation with USFK for swift OPCON transfer

South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook (R) hands over the commandership of the Korea-US Combined Forces Command (CFC) to Gen. Paul LaCamera (L), the new commander of US Forces Korea (USFK), during the latter's inaugural ceremony at US Army base Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, 70 km south of Seoul, on Friday. (Yonhap)
South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook (R) hands over the commandership of the Korea-US Combined Forces Command (CFC) to Gen. Paul LaCamera (L), the new commander of US Forces Korea (USFK), during the latter's inaugural ceremony at US Army base Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, 70 km south of Seoul, on Friday. (Yonhap)
Defense Minister Suh Wook called for speeding up South Korea's envisioned takeover of wartime operational control (OPCON) of its forces from the United States after new US Forces Korea Commander Gen. Paul LaCamera took office last week, his office said Monday.

During a meeting to check on progress in efforts to retake OPCON, Suh "called for various consultations between top USFK officials, including its new commander, and the defense and military authorities to expedite the OPCON transfer based on the firm South Korea-US alliance," according to the ministry.

The two countries have been working for the conditions-based OPCON transfer of South Korean forces from Washington to Seoul, though no specific deadline has been set.

Amid delays in the procedure in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Moon Jae-in has also asked the new US commander to pay close attention to the transfer as a key bilateral issue.

During Monday's meeting, South Korea's top military officers reaffirmed their commitment to retaking OPCON and agreed to join efforts for its transfer "at the right time" on the basis of a strong combined defense posture, the ministry said.

South Korea handed over the operational control of its troops to the US-led UN command during the 1950-53 Korean War. It retook peacetime OPCON in 1994, but wartime OPCON remains in the hands of the US (Yonhap)
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