U.S. suggests expanding crisis concept in alliance manual to include own contingencies: sources

SEOUL-- The United States has proposed that a joint crisis management manual with South Korea be revised in a way that expands the concept of crisis warranting joint response to include not only contingencies on the Korean Peninsula, but also U.S. contingencies, sources said Tuesday.

Critics and experts raised concern that the proposed revision, if realized, could lay the legal ground for the U.S. to request South Korea send troops to deal jointly with its contingencies in the Middle East, the South China Sea and elsewhere.

The U.S. made the proposal to revise the classified document stipulating combined responses and roles of each side in case of crisis as part of preparations for the envisioned transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) of South Korean forces from Washington to Seoul, according to the sources.

The current version specifies "a Korean Peninsula contingency" as a scope of their combined operations, but the U.S. has proposed expanding it further to cover cases that the U.S. regards as threats to its own national security.

South Korea reportedly voiced opposition to the idea.

"Discussions to revise the document have just begun, and all options and scenarios could be on the table over the course," a source said.

Should the document be revised just as Washington calls for, it would establish grounds for South Korea to send its troops to international disputes that are not very relevant to the country, experts point out.

Such a suggestion appears to be in line with U.S. President Donald Trump's pressure on its allies, based upon his cost-benefit calculations, to play a greater role in maintaining their own and regional security, they added.

Seoul and Washington have been pushing for the conditions-based OPCON transfer from Washington to Seoul, eyeing 2022, or thereabouts, as a target date.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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