중앙데일리

Top minister wants U.S. forces to stay as ‘tripwire’

Mar 07,2003
In a meeting with the U.S. ambassador yesterday, South Korean Prime Minister Goh Kun stated that United States forces ought to remain in Korea to deter North Korean invasion.
Currently, more than half of the 37,000 U.S troops stationed in Korea form a defensive perimeter north of Seoul. They act as a “tripwire” that would trigger U.S. military involvement should North Korea invade.
In their discussions, Mr. Goh and Thomas Hubbard, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, agreed that the role of the USFK as a deterrent to a North Korean invasion should not be weakened.
The prime minister also said that considering the tensions surrounding North Korea’s nuclear program, the time was not right to discuss military realignment. Both men reiterated the importance of strengthening ties between the two countries.
Mr. Goh said it is the Roh administration’s position that North Korea should abandon its nuclear ambitions. He also called for bilateral talks to lay out a long-term, comprehensive security strategy for the Korean Peninsula, once tensions surrounding North Korea’s nuclear facility ease.
Mr. Hubbard expressed hopes that the North Korean nuclear issue can be resolved diplomatically, but noted that incidents like the provocation by North Korean jet fighters were making it difficult.
Separately, the commander of USFK, General Leon LaPorte, told reporters yesterday that the command center for U.S. forces and the Combined Forces Command for the two nations would remain in Seoul, despite the relocation of most U.S. military installations out of Seoul. General LaPorte also said that a large U.S. presence in the capital was unnecessary.
The deputy chief of staff of the United Nations Command, Major General James Soligan, said shifting the U.S. perimeter south of Seoul may be part of any future realignment.


by Lee Chul-hee


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