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SEOUL — Incoming South Korean president Lee Myung-bak could ask to delay the transfer of wartime operational control from the United States to South Korea, a spokesman for Lee’s transition team said Wednesday.

Spokesman Kim Won-jun said Lee doesn’t plan to ask for the delay if the plans for the transition, now scheduled for April 17, 2012, continue to go smoothly.

But the transition team plans to review the issue closely by consulting with U.S. officials, according to the team’s Web site.

U.S. Forces Korea spokesman Col. Franklin Childress said Lee’s team has not contacted U.S. officials about delaying the transfer.

“This is a very high-level issue. It’s already been talked about and agreed to at the highest of levels by the presidents of both nations and signed by the secretaries of defense,” Childress said during a telephone interview.

A spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said the ministry doesn’t plan to talk with U.S. officials about any delay. During a daily press briefing on Wednesday, ministry officials said they would push for the transfer to take place as scheduled.


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