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‘We should never let our guard down,’ US Ambassador says

‘We should never let our guard down,’ US Ambassador says

Posted January. 20, 2021 08:19,   

Updated January. 20, 2021 08:19


“U.S.-ROK Alliance activities and training are designed to support peace on the peninsula and in the region while ensuring that we maintain readiness and never let our guard down.”

“There are ample historical examples of what could transpire, including what happened on that fateful day almost 71 years ago, if we’re not ready,” U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris said at the eighth ROK-U.S. Alliance Forum virtually hosted by the Korea-U.S. Alliance Foundation and the Korea Defense Veterans Association on Tuesday morning. He was referring to the Korean War caused by North Korea’s invasion into the South in 1950. “While we hope for diplomacy with North Korea to be successful, we all can recognize that hope is not a course of action.”

The ambassador’s statement was made the day after South Korean President Moon Jae-in said at a New Year’s press conference on Tuesday that a potential suspension of ROK-U.S. joint military exercises could be discussed through the inter-Korean joint military committee in response to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s request.

“While the DPRK may no longer be your ‘enemy,’ remember that just this month at the 8th Workers Party Congress, Kim Jong Un talked about strengthening North Korea’s nuclear war deterrent and military capabilities against ‘threats’ and ‘unexpected situations,’” Harris pointed out. “Yet, throughout the years, the U.S.-ROK Alliance has remained and continues to be the bulwark against North Korean aggression and the rock-solid foundation upon which regional security and stability stands,” he added. “Now let me be clear, the United States is fully committed to this Alliance and we stand firmly with our ROK ally regardless of what the future brings.

“OPCON transition will happen at some point in the near future when conditions are right,” the ambassador said. “This is important, because as you all are well aware, North Korea and the People's Republic of China will continuously test the resolve of our Alliance, and will seek ways to weaken our strong ties and sow doubt in order to divide us,” he explained. Regarding the timing of the OPCON transition, he said that the pace of certifying the Future Combined Forces Command and ROK acquisition of critical military capabilities is taking longer than some desire. “Our mutual security cannot be rushed. We want and need to take the time to get this right,” he added.

“If a certain country tries to bully you, know that we are committed to being on your team,” Harris said, targeting China.

Oh-Hyuk Kwon hyuk@donga.com