U.S., S. Korea talks center on upcoming changes to alliance
SEOUL — U.S. and South Korean military officials began a two-day meeting Tuesday to discuss upcoming changes in the alliance, including South Korea’s desire to have ultimate control over its military during wartime, according to the Korean Ministry of Defense.
The talks, called the Security Policy Initiative, are the seventh of their kind and include South Korean Assistant Defense Minister for Policy Kwon An-do and U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Richard Lawless.
The United States has agreed to discuss the return of wartime control, though no specific timeline is in place. Currently, South Korea has agreed to relinquish military control in case of war to the United States.
On Tuesday, the Defense Ministry denied South Korean media reports that its top official had asked the Korean Environmental Ministry to ease restrictions to speed the exchange of closed U.S. military bases.
The U.S. military here is scaling back its presence and closing smaller bases, most of which are near the North Korean border. South Korean environmental officials have said the United States must clean up much of those areas before the South Korean government will take back the land.