July 18, 2013 10:58
Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin has asked his U.S. counterpart Chuck Hagel to postpone the transfer of full operational control of Korean troops to Seoul. Kim made the request when he met Hagel in Singapore last month.
The handover is scheduled for 2015 and spells the end for Combined Forces Command under U.S. leadership.
Officials from the two sides are discussing the matter further, with a view to the two defense chiefs wrapping up discussions in October.
A senior U.S. Defense Department official told Yonhap News on Tuesday, "I know that has been proposed by the South Korean government, and we are looking at that, working with the South Korean government." The official added that U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have been briefed on the request.
"Kim proposed to the U.S. to pursue the handover of wartime operational control with caution because of worsening tensions after North Korea’s third nuclear test," a government official here said.
President Park Geun-hye and chief presidential security advisor Kim Jang-soo both apparently want the handover postponed.
Seoul and Washington agreed in February 2007 to hand back full troop control to Seoul by April 17, 2012, but former president Lee Myung-bak and Obama agreed in 2010 to postpone the handover to Dec. 1, 2015.
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