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SEOUL — The senior Defense Department official who played a key role in U.S.-South Korean relations in the last four years has announced his retirement.

Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Richard P. Lawless is to retire in July, according to a Defense Department news release.

Lawless has served with the Office of the Secretary of Defense for 4½ years, according to the release.

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve the nation in a time of war in the face of multiple challenges, and to have been able to do so in the company of truly selfless patriots,” Lawless stated in the release.

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Alexander Vershbow thanked Lawless for his service.

“All who value the U.S.-ROK alliance owe a debt of gratitude to Richard Lawless,” Vershbow told Stars and Stripes. “The alliance is stronger today, and evolving in very positive ways, thanks to his tireless efforts. He is turning a page in his distinguished career, but I know that Richard’s friendship for, and commitment to, the Republic of Korea will long endure.”

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