ARLINGTON, Va. — South Korea will assume wartime control over its own military forces in April 2012, the Defense Department announced Friday.

The announcement came after Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with South Korean National Defense Minister Kim Jang Soo on Friday at the Pentagon.

The U.S. commander in South Korea has wartime control of both U.S. and South Korean troops in case of war, but the South Korean government has said it now wants wartime control over its own forces.

Until Friday, the Defense Department’s position was that South Korea could take wartime control over its military in 2009, while South Korean officials have insisted they could not do so before 2012.

An October 2006 meeting between top U.S. and South Korean Defense officials failed to resolve the matter.

Since then, U.S. and South Korean officials have decided to turn command and control capabilities over to the South Koreans incrementally and then have an exercise in March 2012 to make sure everything is in place for the transition, Defense Department spokesman Maj. David Smith said.

“We have said all along that the discussions about the transition on wartime control would be done in a coordinated effort with our allies — it would not be a unilateral decision,” he said.

The two sides have agreed to work out a “Road Map” to determine what needs to be done by March 2012 to transition to South Korean wartime command, Smith said.

Also Friday, Gates and Kim repeated their commitments to accelerate the move of U.S. troops from Yongsan Garrison in Seoul to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, a Defense Department news release says. The news release did not give a time line.

The Defense Department wants to move U.S. troops to Camp Humphreys in 2008, while South Korean officials have said the move might have to wait until 2013.

The news release made no mention of any discussion of South Korea’s contribution toward the costs of sustaining U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula.

The South Korean government currently pays about 40 percent of the nonpersonnel costs associated with having U.S. troops in its country, but former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had insisted the two countries split the costs roughly equally.

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