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Think Tank Gauging Opinions on Command Transfer Delay

Posted March. 15, 2010 09:29,   


The U.S. has hired a leading American think tank to gauge public opinion in Korea on the proposed delay of Washington’s wartime operational control to Seoul, a Korean government official said yesterday.

The official said Abraham M. Denmark, a senior researcher at the Center for a New American Security, visited Seoul last month to listen to officials from the Korean presidential office and Defense Ministry, lawmakers, reserve generals and private security experts.

“I understand that the center’s survey was conducted on behalf of the U.S. State Department,” the official said. “It is premature, however, to say the U.S. government is considering postponing the command transfer. (Denmark’s) visit should be considered a field trip aimed at finding alternatives to the postponement of the transfer if it becomes an issue.”

Denmark and the Koreans he spoke to are known to have discussed matters including a higher contribution by Korea to keep U.S. troops in Korea, and purchases of U.S. weapons to beef up the Korean military’s power if the command transfer is put off.

Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said in a lecture last month that it is impossible for Korea to make significant concessions to repeal the transfer. He suggested that the country will pay a price if the transfer is postponed.

The U.S. think tank was established in 2007 by Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Michele Flournoy, under secretary of defense for policy. It was included in the pool of U.S. President Barack Obama’s diplomatic team.

Major members of the center include former U.S. Navy Secretary Richard Danzig and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

In a visit to Seoul last month, Campbell said the U.S. is taking seriously fears in Korea over the transfer. He added that the issue needs additional dialogue between senior officials of the two allies.