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S. Korean FM sees alliance with U.S. 'far outlasting'
CAMP BONIFAS, South Korea, Dec. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan voiced confidence on Friday that his country's alliance with the United States will be "far outlasting," dismissing concerns that their lockstep partnership may be somewhat readjusted at a time of leadership transition in Seoul.

   Kim made the remarks as he visited a U.S. base at the edge of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas and encouraged U.S. troops stationed here to mark the upcoming 60th anniversary of signing the military alliance between the two nations.

   "I believe that our alliance, based on the success of the past 60 years, will be developed into an alliance based on shared values and an alliance that meets various challenges we will face together," Kim told hundreds of American and South Korean troops crammed into Camp Bonifas at one of the world's most heavily fortified frontiers.

  
Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan (R) meets with Gen. James Thurman (L), the top commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, and U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim in Seoul on Dec. 12, 2012. (Yonhap file photo)


Describing the base as "freedom's frontier" and a "testimony to our alliance and partnership," Kim said, "I have no doubt that our rock-solid alliance will be far outlasting."

   The U.S. and Korean soldiers jointly serving for the security battalion and military armistice commission are the physically closest to North Korea.

   Kim was accompanied on his visit by Gen. James Thurman, the top commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, and U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim. About 28,500 U.S. soldiers are stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

   The three spent about 20 minutes on a viewing platform at the DMZ, talking with some of the U.S. and Korean soldiers on guard and giving year-end presents to them.

   Many analysts have agreed that the U.S. would be more comfortable with a Park Geun-hye presidency, but the lockstep alliance between Seoul and Washington may be adjusted as Park is expected to take a more conciliatory approach with North Korea than outgoing President Lee Myung-bak.

   Early this month, North Korea conducted a largely successful launch of a long-range rocket, condemned by the U.N. Security Council for violating U.N. resolutions that ban the North from conducting any ballistic missile-related tests.

   The South Korean foreign minister urged U.S. troops to maintain a solid defense posture as Park is set to take office in February.

   "I ask all of you to keep a thorough defense posture at a time of leadership transition here," Kim said.

   kdh@yna.co.kr
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