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S. Korea's Army chief to visit Japan for military talks

All Headlines 13:51 April 10, 2016

SEOUL, April 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Army chief will visit Japan later in the month to hold talks with his counterpart on ways to expand bilateral cooperation, the military said Sunday.

The Army said its Chief of Staff Gen. Jang Jun-gyu will be in Japan on April 17 and 18 and hold a meeting with Gen. Kiyofumi Iwata, the head of Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force.

The talks will be the first of their kind since January 2008, when a meeting took place between the heads of South Korea's and Japan's ground forces in Tokyo.

"Jang will meet senior ranking officers of the Japanese forces as well as South Korean personnel undergoing training in Japan's military schools," the Army said.

It said emphasis will be placed on furthering personnel exchange between military officers from the two countries.

"The latest visit does not have anything to do with the joint acquisition and cross-servicing agreement that has been mentioned by Seoul and Tokyo," an Army source stressed.

The visit is expected to help speed up exchange between the top brasses of the two countries, following a trip made by Japan's top naval commander to South Korea late last month.

Bilateral relations between the neighboring countries have been rocky due to resentment over Japan's harsh colonial rule (1910-45) over the Korean Peninsula in the last century. Tokyo's efforts to dodge responsibility over its role in the use of sexual slaves during World War II, its ongoing effort to whitewash its history textbooks and its claims on Dokdo, South Korea's easternmost territory in the East Sea, have all strained relations.

The Army then said Gen. Jang will be in Washington this week to meet his U.S. counterpart Gen. Mark Milley to discuss outstanding issues related to the South Korea-U.S. military alliance. He will visit various command facilities in the United States during his trip.

He is expected to touch on mutual security issues and ways to strengthen exchange of personnel that can promote closer bilateral ties.

Washington maintains 28,500 troops in South Korea to safeguard it from invasion by the North. The troop presence takes into account that the Korean War (1950-53) ended in a cease fire and not a formal peace treaty. Technically, the two Koreas are still at war, with over a million troops facing off against each other across the military demarcation line that bisects the Korean Peninsula.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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