Posted October. 22, 2005 10:29,
South Korea and the U.S. agreed to gradually step up consultations on the handover of wartime operational control yesterday, which is now in the hands of the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces commander in the event of an emergency on the Korean peninsula, to the South Korean military.
The two countries held the 37th Annual ROK-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) attended by Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung and his U.S. counterpart Donald Rumsfeld at a National Defense Ministry conference room in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, yesterday morning, and adopted 13 provisions of a joint statement, including the above.
Seoul and Washington reaffirmed on the same day that the U.S. Forces Koreas (USFK) strategic flexibility should be maintained and that the U.S. would continuously provide South Korea with defense pledges and nuclear umbrella protection in accordance with the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty.
The two were on the same page over the current situation in which even if they expect that Pyongyangs military threat will gradually go down through progress in the six-party talks and inter-Korean efforts for reconciliation and cooperation, the Norths weapons of mass destruction and missile capability still concern the South Korea-U.S. alliance and the international community.
A Defense Ministry official said, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld puts a high value on Seouls increased role in its national defense, and expressed his intention to actively support Seouls defense reform bills.
Meanwhile, when asked about the controversy over the withdrawal of U.S. General Douglas MacArthurs statue, Rumsfeld expressed his disappointment, saying, A slew of U.S. soldiers devoted their lives for the South Korean peoples freedom and peace, and lots of funds have been invested.
After completing the meeting, Rumsfeld paid a courtesy call to President Roh Moo-hyun and visited Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, where he talked with U.S. soldiers. Rumsfeld is scheduled to leave South Korea on October 22.