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(LEAD) Top S. Korean, U.S. military officials discuss alliance issues

All Headlines 11:23 October 27, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout)

SEOUL, Oct. 27 (Yonhap) -- The highest-ranking military officers of South Korea and the United States held talks in Seoul on key alliance issues Friday, the eve of their annual defense ministerial talks.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said its chairman, Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo, had the 42nd Military Committee Meeting (MCM) with his American counterpart Gen. Joseph Dunford.

The MCM is held every year prior to the Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) between the allies' defense ministers.

In the MCM, the two sides shared updates on the security condition of the Korean Peninsula, their combined operational plan, related exercises and cybersecurity among other alliance issues.

Return of the U.S.-held wartime operational control of Korean troops was also high on their agenda, according to the JCS. South Korea and the U.S. are reportedly planning to begin mapping out a three-step road map next year to return wartime troop control back to Seoul.

Having reportedly reached a shared understanding that North Korea's nuclear weapons development has entered a phase of serious threat, the military leaders reaffirmed their commitment to use the U.S.' extended deterrence capability to fight North Korea in the event of provocations. The officers reportedly discussed ways to refine their combined operational plans to deal with the increased threats.

Also discussed reportedly in Friday's MCM was Seoul's push for revising bilateral missile guidelines, which limit the weight of warheads South Korean ballistic missiles could carry. The countries are believed to be seeking to remove the restrictions in the face of North Korean military threats.

The JCS chiefs will report the outcome of their talks to the defense ministers -- South Korea's Song Young Moo and Pentagon chief James Mattis.

Song and Mattis, meanwhile, were set to visit the truce village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) together later in the day.

(LEAD) Top S. Korean, U.S. military officials discuss alliance issues - 1

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