Top military officer to visit Washington over provocation
Army Gen. Jung Seung-jo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will visit the U.S. this month to sign a joint operational plan to counter potential North Korean provocations, officials said Tuesday.
Under the allies' joint plan, the South will lead any counterattack against North Korean provocation with the U.S. providing reinforcements with its troops stationed in South Korea and Japan, and forces from U.S. Pacific Command.
Seoul and Washington agreed to the plan in principle at their annual defense ministerial talks, the Security Consultative Meeting (SCM), in October of last year. They have been working on such a plan since North Korea bombed the South's Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010, killing two Marines and two civilians.
Jung will also meet Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to discuss security on the Korean Peninsula following former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's death, according to officials. The generals will also assess the threat of North Korean provocations and talk about their joint countermeasures.
"This trip will help enhance intelligence sharing and overall coordination between the militaries of the two allies, with uncertainty on the Korean Peninsula after Kim Jong-il's death," one military official said. "Signing the joint counter-provocation plan will also send a strong message of deterrence to North Korea."
The official said Jung will seek Dempsey's support in preparation for the smooth transition of wartime operational control from Washington to Seoul in 2015. In addition, the two commanders will discuss U.S. strategic plans on the Korean Peninsula following the recent announcement of a new U.S. defense plan, the official added.
The U.S. said it will slim down its military defense expenditures, which are set to be cut by billions of dollars over the next decade, but insisted it will stay committed to the Asia-Pacific region.(Yonhap)