The South Korean defense ministry and the Defense Department have concluded the 14th Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue in Seoul, defense officials announced Thursday in a joint U.S.-South Korean statement.
South Korean Deputy Minister for National Defense Policy Yeo Suk-joo and Acting Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for East Asia Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Roberta Shea led the talks, which were held July 25-26. Key South Korean and U.S. defense and foreign affairs officials also participated, officials said.
During the talks, the delegations assessed that through inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korea high-level and working-level talks, the two nations are making meaningful progress towards achieving denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula as agreed to at the two inter-Korean summits in Panmunjom and the U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore, officials said.
The two sides highlighted North Korea’s reaffirmation of its commitment to complete denuclearization, as agreed to by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. They also highlighted efforts for repatriation of the remains of U.S. service members, and concurred that they need to continue to seek measures to build mutual trust between all parties so long as North Korea continues negotiations in good faith, defense officials said. They also agreed that the United Nations Security Council sanctions will continue to be enforced until North Korea takes concrete and verifiable steps towards denuclearization.
At the security policy initiative session, South Korea and the U.S. discussed cooperative measures to deepen and expand the South Korean-U.S. alliance by continuing to maintain robust bilateral coordination amid changes in the security situation, officials said. The two sides assessed that their close bilateral defense cooperation has contributed to progress in realizing the inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korea summit agreements, and pledged to continue to strengthen their mutual communication and coordination. They also shared the view that they need to continue to maintain a robust combined defense posture while negotiations seek to ease tensions with North Korea, defense officials said.
South Korea and the U.S. highlighted the relocation of the U.S. Forces Korea and United Nations Command headquarters to Camp Humphreys, officials said, and expressed their shared belief that USFK, beyond serving as a symbol of the South Korean-U.S. alliance and defending the Korean Peninsula, will continue to play an important role in maintaining peace and stability of Northeast Asia and the world. In addition, the U.S. expressed its appreciation of South Korea’s contribution to construction of Camp Humphreys and reaffirmed its intention to maintain the current U.S. forces levels on the Korean Peninsula, defense officials said.
The South Korean and U.S. delegations concurred that bolstering the South Korean military’s defense capabilities and enhancing the two militaries’ interoperability are important for advancing comprehensive alliance capabilities, and committed to continue to deepen cooperation in various fields, to include defense industry, science and technology, cyber, and space, officials said. They also highlighted the historical significance of this year’s 50th South Korean-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting scheduled to be held here at the end of October, defense officials said, and pledged to work together to make it a valuable opportunity to further deepen and develop the future South Korean-U.S. alliance in a mutually reinforcing manner, building upon the achievements of the bilateral defense cooperation of the past half-century.
At the conditions-based operational control transition working group meeting, officials said both sides confirmed that progress continues in preparation for the transition of wartime operational control and pledged to strengthen their cooperation to meet the necessary conditions for the OPCON transition expeditiously, while fully taking into consideration future changes in security situation on the Korean Peninsula.
Both parties noted that the South Korean-U.S. Combined Forces Command has been critical in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula in the past 40 years, and shared the understanding that, post-OPCON transition, CFC should continue to carry out the central role of South Korean-U.S. combined defense posture, defense officials said, noting that the two nations will aim to finalize several key documents ahead of the 50th South Korean-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting in October.
At the deterrence strategy committee plenary session, officials said the two sides discussed various means to enhance effective deterrence capabilities, taking into consideration the security situation on the Korean Peninsula. The United States reaffirmed its commitment to continue to provide extended deterrence capabilities.
Both sides assessed that the 14th Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue reaffirms the close bonds of the alliance and further bolsters bilateral coordination, defense officials said. The South Korean defense ministry and U.S. Defense Department share the view that close bilateral defense cooperation is important amid dynamic security situation on the Korean Peninsula, officials said, and they pledged to maintain and strengthen their everyday cooperation and coordination.