U.S.-Korea military hold talks via video

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U.S.-Korea military hold talks via video

Taking into consideration the recent security situation on the Korean Peninsula, the chairman of Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff General Jung Seung-jo opted to preside over a top military meeting with his U.S. counterpart via video conference rather than in person last night on defense measures against Pyongyang’s provocations.

The 37th Military Committee Meeting of top Seoul and U.S. military officials was initially slated to be held in Washington mid-month to coordinate policy on North Korea and evaluate the joint forces’ defense capabilities.

But Jung delayed a Washington trip earlier this month to meet with Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey in the face of the North’s missile threat and other military provocations.

A Korean military official stated that the decision to hold a video conference instead was because of a “situation where General Jung could not leave the country at the moment.”

In the security talks, Jung and Dempsey were also expected to discuss future joint operation plans, especially in regards to the transfer of wartime operation control of Korea from Washington scheduled for the end of 2015, an issue discussed by the two military commanders in the 36th military meeting held in October last year.

Seoul previously stated that through the Military Committee Meeting it will seek an agreement with Washington on the concept of a future joint command structure, which will replace the current Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command.

The meeting also provides an opportunity for the two countries to renew their long alliance.

Some Korean lawmakers stated that the plan for the U.S. to hand over wartime operational control to the South in 2015 must be delayed because it was made before the North’s recent threats of potentially possessing nuclear arms.

At a Security Consultative Meeting between Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin and his U.S. counterpart in October, Seoul will seek an endorsement of a new joint command structure.

Despite severe budget cuts in defense, the U.S. vowed its commitment to security in Asia will not be affected. The two military officials will issue a joint statement after the meeting.

By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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