Posted June. 28, 2010 11:34,
The government and the U.S. have agreed to postpone the transfer of Washingtons wartime operational control of the South Korean military to Seoul to December 1, 2015. The original date for the switch was April 17, 2012.
President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed on this Saturday in talks ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Toronto.
In February 2007, the two allies agreed that the command would be transferred on April 17, 2012. Control of South Koreas forces in wartime is under the commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command and the U.S. Forces Korea.
The two countries had been holding negotiations since February this year due to calls for a delay following North Koreas second nuclear test in May last year.
Both leaders ordered their defense ministers to start the necessary procedures for the new transfer date. Bilateral meetings of foreign and defense ministers in July and the Security Consultative Meeting in October will draw up follow-up plans.
Kim Sung-hwan, President Lees top diplomacy and national security adviser, told a news briefing that both sides decided that 2012 is inappropriate for the transfer because of destabilizing factors on the Korean Peninsula and vicinity. In that year, Kim said, North Korea aims to declare itself a powerful country, South Korea and the U.S. will hold presidential elections, and Chinese President Hu Jintaos term will end.
In addition, he said the transfer was rescheduled for December 1, 2015, based on Seouls military preparedness, its plan to establish a ground forces command in 2015, and the planned relocation of the U.S. Forces Korea to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, south of the capital.
On the bilateral free trade agreement, Obama said the two countries will tackle differences over the deal before the November G20 summit in Seoul and seek congressional ratification of the accord within several months after the event. He ordered the U.S. Trade Representative to begin working-level preparation for the time schedule.
Seouls chief trade negotiator Kim Jong-hoon told a news briefing that Obama made it clear that he is not seeking renegotiation of the deal, using the term readjustment.
The negotiator said Washington seems clearly aware that the agreements existing text cannot be revised, expecting the U.S. to allay congressional concerns over the deal.
Michael Froman, deputy assistant to the U.S. president and deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, said the most important issues in the deals ratification is Seouls non-tariff barriers in cars and beef.