S. Korea, US to hold military talks on N.Korea
By Jung Sung-ki
Top military commanders of South Korea and the United States will hold talks in Seoul today regarding joint measures to deter future provocation by North Korea, according to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the U.S. Department of Defense Tuesday.
The meeting takes place on the heels of North Korea’s artillery attack on one of South Korea’s islands near the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the West Sea, a flash point for inter-Korean conflicts.
South Korea and the United States staged a massive naval-readiness exercise in the western waters after the deadly attack in a show of strength against the North.
Participants at Wednesday’s meeting will include JCS chairman Gen. Han Min-koo; Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) Commander Gen. Walter Sharp; Lt. Gen. Jeong Hong-yong, director of ROK JCS’ strategy and planning bureau; and Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., director of the U.S. JCS’s strategy and planning bureau.
“The chairmen of the South Korean and U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff will assess any additional intent of North Korea to provoke the South and the future prospects for security conditions on the Korean Peninsula,” the ROK JCS said in a statement.
“Various measures to deter the North’s provocative acts will be discussed at the meeting under the framework of the ROK-U.S. alliance,” it said.
Seoul’s right to invoke a self-defense force would also be a key topic for the discussions, JCS officials said.
USFK spokesman Col. Jonathan Withington said the meeting is aimed to herald the “solidarity and strength” of the alliance.
Navy Capt. John Kirby, spokesman for Adm. Mullen, said the chairman’s visit is the outcome of “an interagency decision made late last week.”
The discussions will focus on the alliance and new ways to cooperate and improve interoperability, he said.
“If it was an emergency meeting I suspect he would have been on a plane a lot sooner than tonight,” Kirby said. “Obviously the situation remains tense on the peninsula, but I don’t believe anybody thinks we’re in an emergency situation. In fact, things are at a relatively stable level, given the unprovoked artillery attack... and South Korea’s restraint.”
The North’s artillery attack killed four South Koreans ― two marines and two civilians.