Allies agree to keep sanctions until N. Korea takes ‘concrete, verifiable’ denuclearization steps

SEOUL, South Korea and the United States agreed Thursday to keep enforcing sanctions against North Korea until it takes "concrete, verifiable" steps toward denuclearization, during their biannual working-level defense talks.

During the 14th Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD) in Seoul, the two sides also shared the view that there is a need to continuously explore ways to build trust with Pyongyang as long as the communist state maintains a "good-will" dialogue.

Seoul's defense ministry announced the outcome of the two-day talks. Deputy Minister for National Defense Policy, Yeo Suk-joo, represented the South Korean side, while Roberta Shea, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense, led the U.S. delegation.

During the talks, the two sides mentioned "meaningful progress" following two inter-Korean summits in April and May and last month's U.S.-North Korea summit despite concerns over a perceived lack of progress in the North's denuclearization process.

The KIDD consists of several subordinate consultative bodies, including the Security Policy Initiative (SPI), the Conditions-based OPCON Transition Working Group (COTWG) and the Deterrence Strategy Committee (DSC).

At the SPI, the allies expressed the "shared expectation" that the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) would play a crucial role for peace in Northeast Asia and the world beyond the Korean Peninsula.

They also reaffirmed that the USFK will maintain the current troop level, while agreeing to deepen cooperation in various areas, such as the defense industry, cyberspace and outer space

At the COTWG, the two sides confirmed "continued progress" in preparations for the transfer of wartime operational control and agreed to strengthen cooperation to meet the conditions necessary for the handover at an early date.

In addition, they shared the understanding that the allies' Combined Forces Command will continue to play a central role in the allied defense architecture and agreed to push to develop related agreements before their ministerial Security Consultative Meeting slated for October in Washington.

At the DSC, the U.S. reaffirmed its extended deterrence commitment to the South. Extended deterrence refers to the U.S. commitment to defend its ally by mobilizing all military capabilities, nuclear and conventional, against the North's aggression.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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