Moon asks new USFK commander to attend to alliance issues

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Moon asks new USFK commander to attend to alliance issues

Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, awards the Tongil Medal, Korea's highest national security merit, to Gen. Robert Abrams, outgoing commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, at the Blue House in Seoul on Thursday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, awards the Tongil Medal, Korea's highest national security merit, to Gen. Robert Abrams, outgoing commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, at the Blue House in Seoul on Thursday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

President Moon Jae-in requested Thursday that the new top commander of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) pay attention to such pending alliance issues as the transition of wartime operational control (Opcon) and the return of its base in central Seoul.
 
Moon delivered the message directly to Gen. Paul LaCamera, who is replacing Gen. Robert Abrams, during a luncheon joined by Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, according to presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mee.
 
The event was held at the Blue House right after Moon bestowed the Tongil Medal, South Korea's highest national security merit, on Abrams for his contribution to the alliance and the defense of the region.
 
The president also gave him a sword adorned with a tiger, and to his wife a bunch of flowers with the meaning of hope for peace in Korea on the foundation of the friendship between the two countries.
 
Moon told the outgoing USFK chief that the alliance had developed in a more robust way throughout his stint here. He also cited the implementation of the Sept. 19 comprehensive military agreement between the two Koreas and the easing of tensions on the peninsula via U.S.-North Korea summit talks, with regional peace maintained.
 
Abrams has worn the three different hats of leading the 28,500-strong USFK, the allies' Combined Forces Command and the United Nations Command. LaCamera will do so as well following the change of command ceremony slated for Friday.
 
Speaking to the incoming USFK commander, Moon expressed high expectations for his role, especially as he has experience serving at the front lines of South Korea and he is well aware of the security situations here, said the spokesperson.
 
The president asked him to handle alliance issues, including the plan for the Washington-to-Seoul transfer of Opcon and the return of the U.S. military base in Yongsan, central Seoul, with keen interest in order to produce accomplishments on the basis of close coordination with South Korea's military.
 
Meanwhile, Abrams said he was "extremely honored and humbled" to be presented with the medal.
 
"I accept this award on behalf of the hard work and dedication of the Republic of Korea, United States and United Nation Sending State's military forces who remain steadfast in their tireless efforts to maintain peace, security and stability on the Korean Peninsula," the general said in a statement.
 
"This has been the most amazing place to live and conclude my 39 years of service as a soldier," he added.
 
Yonhap
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