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A North Korean soldier looks over the shoulder of a South Korean soldier Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, inside the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission Conference Building at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The conference building is used by United Nations representatives and South and North Korean diplomats during negotiations.

A North Korean soldier looks over the shoulder of a South Korean soldier Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, inside the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission Conference Building at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The conference building is used by United Nations representatives and South and North Korean diplomats during negotiations. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

A North Korean soldier looks over the shoulder of a South Korean soldier Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, inside the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission Conference Building at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The conference building is used by United Nations representatives and South and North Korean diplomats during negotiations.

A North Korean soldier looks over the shoulder of a South Korean soldier Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, inside the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission Conference Building at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The conference building is used by United Nations representatives and South and North Korean diplomats during negotiations. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

A North Korean soldier stands guard in front of a U.S. soldier Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, at the Military Demarcation Line, which marks the border between North and South Korea, at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone.

A North Korean soldier stands guard in front of a U.S. soldier Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, at the Military Demarcation Line, which marks the border between North and South Korea, at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

A South Korean soldier stands guard Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, inside the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission Conference Building at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.

A South Korean soldier stands guard Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, inside the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission Conference Building at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

A South Korean soldier stands guard Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, inside the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission Conference Building at Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.

A South Korean soldier stands guard Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, inside the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission Conference Building at Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

A South Korean soldier stands guard outside the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission Conference Building Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The North Korean Freedom House is in the background.

A South Korean soldier stands guard outside the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission Conference Building Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The North Korean Freedom House is in the background. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford is given a tour of Observation Post Ouelette at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. The visit was Dunford's first to the buffer zone between the two hostile countries as Joint Chiefs chairman.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford is given a tour of Observation Post Ouelette at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. The visit was Dunford's first to the buffer zone between the two hostile countries as Joint Chiefs chairman. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford speaks at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford speaks at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford meets soldiers at Observation Post Ouelette at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on Monday,  Nov. 2, 2015.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford meets soldiers at Observation Post Ouelette at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

PANMUNJOM, Korea — Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford on Monday visited with U.S. and South Korean soldiers guarding the Demilitarized Zone, which separates North and South Korea.

It was Dunford’s first visit to South Korea as Joint Chiefs chairman. He marveled at the cooperation between the U.S. and South Korean militaries.

“There probably isn’t another organization out there that has the level of integration that we have out here along the DMZ with the security battalion,” he said.

His visit coincides with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s trip to the Korean Peninsula. Carter is in Seoul for the 2015 Security Consultative Meeting between U.S. and South Korean officials, where a timetable is expected to be set for wartime operational control of South Korea’s defense to be transferred to Seoul.

The U.S. has been largely responsible for the defense of South Korea since the Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in 1953 and currently has 28,500 servicemembers stationed on the peninsula. North and South Korea signed the treaty that resulted in a cease-fire between the two countries, but hostilities have continued since with both sides having been more aggressive of late.

kimber.james@stripes.comTwitter: @james_kimber

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