By Jung Sung-ki
The defense chiefs of South Korea and the United States will meet later this week to review a series of recent joint military exercises designed to show a deterrence capability against North Korean provocation, defense officials said Wednesday.
The Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) between Defense Minister Kim Tae-young and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be held on Oct. 8 in Washington, D.C.
“This meeting with Minister Kim offers the opportunity to review recent joint military exercises, which are a manifestation of our close cooperation and the strong state of our alliance 60 years after the start of the Korean War,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters.
Morrell said Gates and Kim will reaffirm efforts to thwart any North Korean provocation, such as the sinking of the South Korean ship Cheonan in March.
In a separate news briefing, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley called on North Korea to refrain from any further provocations.
“We do not want to see any further provocative actions by North Korea under any circumstances, whether they're now or whether they're later, as we get towards the upcoming summit,” Crowley said. “We want to see North Korea act more constructively in the region. We'll respond to the extent that they do.”
Kim and Gates will also discuss a range of issues of mutual concern, such as the planned transition of wartime operational control (OPCON) in 2015 and the relocation of U.S. military bases to south of the Han River among other items.
President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Obama agreed in June to delay South Korea's taking back of wartime OPCON to December 2015 from April 2012, citing the need for the sides to prepare more for their joint defense capability in the face of nuclear and other threats from North Korea.