July 31, 2013 09:42
Washington is minded to accept Seoul's request to delay the handover of full operational control of South Korean troops to Seoul in view of the changed security environment here.
Until recently, the U.S. wanted the transfer to go ahead as scheduled in December 2015.
But the signals at the two-day Integrated Defense Dialogue in Seoul starting on Tuesday were apparently more positive. Seoul wants to delay the handover because it believes South Korean troops and equipment are not ready to operate without the umbrella of Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command.
A government source here said the first day of talks saw U.S. officials "affirmative" of delaying the handover in view of new challenges including the North's recent third nuclear test.
The final decision on the transfer is expected in the Korea-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul in October, but experts believe there is a now a good chance that things will be all wrapped up before the SCM.
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