Joint deterrent force among topics at U.S.-S. Korea defense talks
October 22, 2004
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Security in the wake of a troop reduction agreement, maintaining a joint deterrent force and the shape of the future U.S. presence will be the focus of an annual, one-day meeting Friday between the top U.S. and South Korean defense officials.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and South Korean Minister of National Defense Yoon Kwang-ung are to hold the Security Consultative Meeting in Washington, D.C., officials confirmed this week.
Initially, the meeting was expected to be the venue where the two sides would finalize an agreement to remove 12,500 U.S. troops from the South Korean peninsula. But negotiators reached a deal in separate talks earlier this month. Under that plan, the 12,500 troops would leave South Korea in phases over the next three years.
The first 5,000, including the 3,600 2nd Brigade Combat Team soldiers on a one-year tour in Iraq, are to leave by the end of this year.
According to South Korean media reports, Yoon likely will bring up the issue of cost sharing in the meetings. Under agreements revisited each year, the South Koreans paid $638 million to help maintain U.S. installations in the country. The money also covers South Korean non-military employees and logistics costs.
South Korean officials say the U.S. will request an increase to about $800 million for next year’s cost sharing, a figure the South Koreans cite as too high, given the reduction plans already under way.
Also on the agenda will be ways to strengthen the combined U.S.-South Korean deterrent force and any joint anti-terror measures that can be implemented, the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement about the meeting.
In recent weeks, both U.S. and South Korean government and military agencies have increased their security postures. The moves came after South Korea dispatched some 3,000 troops to Iraq, making it a possible target for retribution by terror groups.
Prior to the meeting between Rumsfeld and Yoon, the Defense Ministry said, the two countries’ joint chiefs of staff chairmen will meet to discuss North Korean military activities, particularly its nuclear and missile development programs.
“I hope there will be such a chance to discuss the North Korean nuclear matter in a productive manner,” Yoon said in a statement before he left for Washington. “There will be both an official meeting and one-on-one talks.”