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S. Korea expects '2+2 talks' with U.S. next month

All Headlines 14:48 September 05, 2018

By Lee Chi-dong and Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has proposed holding its first two-plus-two talks with the United States in the Donald Trump era as early as possible with a view to hold comprehensive consultations on North Korea and other political-military issues, including the Indo-Pacific strategy, a diplomatic source said Wednesday.

A problem is bringing together the top diplomats and defense chiefs of the allies, who have busy schedules.

"A realistic option is arranging the 2+2 meeting and the Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) back to back," the source said.

This year's SCM between South Korea's defense minister and the Pentagon chief is scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. in late October.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (R) talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Singapore on Aug. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

Defense Minister Song Young-moo met several times with his American counterpart Jim Mattis. Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha also often converses with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo either by phone or in meetings.

If the two sides hold another round of two-plus-two talks, it would set the stage for comprehensive consultations on denuclearization, the envisioned end-of-war declaration, pending alliance issues and their regional campaigns, called the New Southern Policy and the Indo-Pacific Strategy, according to the source.

South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo (R) stands together with U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in Seoul on June 28, 2018. (Joint press corps-Yonhap)

It remains uncertain whether Song will attend the upcoming SCM. Last week, President Moon Jae-in announced a plan to replace him with Air Force Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Jeong is subject to the National Assembly's confirmation hearing and approval, a process expected to take at least several weeks.

The government expects it to be completed before the SCM, an annual meeting created half a century ago.

A ceremony to commemorate the 50th birth anniversary will be held on the sidelines of the SCM.

As part of the event, they seek to make a joint announcement on the history and role of the SCM and how it should evolve down the road. The governments of the two sides are also seeking to persuade their parliaments to adopt separate resolutions in support of the SCM.

Seoul and Washington launched the ministerial 2+2 talks in 2010 and had follow-up sessions in 2012, 2014 and 2016.

South Korea wants to keep holding the strategic talks every two years.


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