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U.S., South Korea eye closer military cooperation

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta met Wednesday with his South Korean counterpart at the Pentagon to discuss closer military cooperation amid threats by North Korea.

"North Korea remains a serious threat to both of our nations and a serious threat to regional and global stability," Mr. Panetta said. "The United States stands fully committed to the security of the Republic of Korea.

"Make no mistake, we will provide the forces and the military capabilities needed to help maintain security on the Korean Peninsula," he said.

Mr. Panetta said it is not clear how North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will guide his country, but noted that the North's totalitarian regime continues to threaten stability, prepare missile and nuclear tests, and enrich uranium in violation of international sanctions.

In addition, the U.S. and South Korea will work closely on wide-ranging security challenges, including those in space and cyberspace, he said.

South Korean National Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said the two militaries were working on a new command structure, reaffirming a 2015 timetable for Washington to transfer to Seoul wartime operational control of South Korean troops.

The 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace agreement, so the North and South technically remain in a state of war. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against aggression by the North.

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