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(2nd LD) S. Korean defense chief meets U.S. Ambassador Harris

Defense 17:26 January 28, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with meeting with foreign minister in 6th para)

SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo met Harry Harris, Washington's top envoy here, Monday to discuss a range of pending issues, Jeong's ministry said.

The ambassador's unannounced visit to the Ministry of National Defense came amid a deadlock in the allies' negotiations over Seoul's share of the cost of stationing U.S. troops in Korea.

They might also have discussed the issue of a recent military spat between Seoul and Tokyo, America's two core Asian allies, over Japanese maritime patrol aircraft abruptly flying close to South Korean warships. Defense officials here described the incidents as provocative.

Calls have emerged for Washington to mediate between Seoul and Tokyo to prevent the spat from hampering joint efforts to promote peace and stability on the peninsula and beyond.

An aide to Jeong refused to comment on the details of his discussions with Harris but said their meeting was largely meant for "new year's greetings."

Later in the day, the ambassador had a closed-door meeting with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha as well. It lasted only 20 minutes, whereas he met with the defense chief for more than one hour, an informed source said.

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris walks out of the Ministry of National Defense building in Seoul on Jan. 28, 2019, after talks with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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