October 22, 2014 12:10
Defense Minister Han Min-koo leaves for Washington on Wednesday for the annual bilateral Security Consultative Meeting.
The meeting is poised to make a final decision about the timing and terms for the postponement of the handover of full operational control of Korean troops to Seoul.
The two allies will also discuss the threats from North Korea, a custom-made deterrence strategy against the North's weapons of mass destruction, cooperation in space and cyber security, and regional and global security cooperation, the government said.
But the key point is to reset the timing for the transfer of troop control now scheduled for 2015. Officials from the two countries are said to have tentatively agreed on a delay until the early 2020s, when Korea's own missile defense system is completed.
The meeting will also discuss whether to keep the Combined Forces Command in Seoul and the artillery brigade of the U.S. Forces Korea north of the Han River -- issues over which the two sides have been at odds.
Right after the talks the foreign and defense ministers' of the two countries gather for a "2+2" meeting.
There they will "reaffirm that the door to dialogue is open to North Korea, while pledging to respond firmly to its provocations," a government official here said.
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