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(LEAD) S. Korea-U.S. defense dialogue covers N. Korea, OPCON transition
(ATTN: UPDATES with details of discussions over OPCON transition in 9-10 paras)
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) -- Senior South Korean and U.S. military officials held a high-level defense meeting Tuesday to assess security threats on the Korean Peninsula and prepare for the planned transition of the wartime operational control (OPCON) to Seoul.

   The two-day Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD) took place in Seoul in order for the two countries to discuss military issues and security agendas as they seek to maintain a close alliance and a strong deterrence against North Korea.

  


South Korean Deputy Minister of Defense Lim Kwan-bin stressed that close cooperation between the militaries of the two nations is key to tackling various security issues and promoting alliances in the future as the two nations celebrated the 60th anniversary of their alliance.

   Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia David Helvey told Lim that the Korean War, sometimes described as a "forgotten war," was called a "forgotten victory" in this year's commemorative event held in Washington D.C., which was led by U.S. President Barack Obama.

   "The Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue will discuss issues to support peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula, but also Asia-Pacific and other parts of the world," Helvey said in an opening statement.

   The biannual meeting will give senior officials the chance to review changing security situations on the peninsula and growing threats posed by North Korea as the two countries are preparing to transfer OPCON to South Korea in December 2015 and draft a new joint military structure.

   The fourth meeting takes place at a time when calls have grown to postpone the transfer of OPCON following North Korea's third nuclear test in February, and its war-like threats against Seoul and Washington earlier this year.

   The issue of wartime control resurfaced in early July after a top American official said during an interview with Yonhap News Agency that the South Korean government had requested another delay in the OPCON transition following the North Korean provocations this spring.

   A senior ministry official said U.S. officials showed a positive response to Seoul's offer to reconsider the scheduled transition.

   "The ongoing consultations over the OPCON transition are expected to gain momentum in light of this meeting," the official said, requesting anonymity.

   The defense meeting, launched in 2011, is an overarching structure that includes a series of alliance-related meetings such as the Extended Deterrence Policy Committee, the Strategic Alliance 2015 Working Group (SAWG) and the Security Policy Initiative (SPI).
They will assess threats by North Korea's nuclear and missile program, integrated efforts against weapons of mass destruction and alliance issues between the two nations.

   The ministry said agendas discussed in the KIDD will be announced when defense chiefs of the two nations have Security Consultative Meeting slated for October in Seoul.

   ejkim@yna.co.kr
(END)
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