Defense chiefs of S. Korea, U.S. agree on close cooperation over inter-Korean military agreement
SEOUL, The defense chiefs of South Korea and the United States agreed Friday to maintain close cooperation to implement an inter-Korean military agreement aimed at reducing tensions and preventing accidental clashes, Seoul's defense ministry said.
During their talks on the margins of an annual defense forum in Singapore, Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and U.S. counterpart James Mattis also agreed to closely cooperate on fostering conditions for the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) at an early date.
"The two defense chiefs agreed to continue close communication and cooperation to effectively enforce the military agreement and maintain a firm combined defense posture during the enforcement of the agreement," the ministry said in a press release.
Their meeting on the sidelines of the 5th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus came amid speculation that the allies may be at odds over the pace of Seoul's engagement with Pyongyang.
During the talks, Jeong and Mattis also noted that there has been "significant progress" in various areas after their leaders' agreement last year to expeditiously push for a conditions-based OPCON transfer.
The allies have been pushing for the OPCON handover in consideration of various factors, such as the North's military threats and the South's overall defense and combat capabilities. After the transfer, South Korea is to lead wartime operations, with the U.S. playing a supporting role.
The allies' defense chiefs are set to meet again later this month for their annual Security Consultative Meeting in Washington D.C. There, they are set to mark the 50th anniversary of the meeting.
Source: Yonhap News Agency