Korea, U.S. 'on Schedule for Handover of Troop Control'

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Tuesday said he was sure that the deadline for the transfer of full operational control of Korean troops from Washington to Seoul in April 2012 will be met. Speaking on an airplane en route to Tokyo, Gates said he was glad to see progress.

He said when he met President Lee Myung-bak in Washington a few months ago, he found all other processes going smoothly, including the relocation of U.S. bases to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates (far right) answers questions from reporters on an airplane en route to Tokyo on Tuesday. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates (far right) answers questions from reporters on an airplane en route to Tokyo on Tuesday.

Gates said he would review progress in the transfer at the annual Korea-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul on Thursday.

His expression of confidence was the strongest yet from officials in the Barack Obama administration. The message seems clear: he does not want the matter brought up again.

Turning to U.S demands for support for its war in Afghanistan, Gates said that he is ready to talk with Korea at the upcoming SCM about what Afghanistan needs, and that it is totally up to Korea to decide what kind of support it will give.

englishnews@chosun.com / Oct. 21, 2009 12:10 KST