SEOUL, March 18 (Yonhap) -- The defense chiefs of South Korea and the United States will hold talks in Washington early next month over the security situation on the peninsula and joint peace efforts, Seoul's defense ministry said Monday.
The talks between, Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, are likely to touch on such pending issues as the allies' combined military exercises later this year and the envisioned transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON).
"(The ministry) will continue to strengthen the South Korea-U.S. alliance, which is the foundation for our efforts for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of peace," the ministry said in a statement.
The defense chiefs are expected to evaluate the countries' latest Dong Maeng exercise, which replaced the springtime Key Resolve command post exercise under an alliance decision to back diplomacy with North Korea.
They are also likely to discuss the allies' plan to verify Seoul's initial operational capability (IOC) required for the OPCON transition. The IOC certification process is set to occur during their combined command post exercise slated for August.
The allies are pushing for the "conditions-based" OPCON transfer after which the South will lead wartime operations with the U.S. playing a supporting role.
The defense authorities of the two sides are also set to hold the Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue, biannual working-level talks, next month and in September.
Aside from next month's talks, their defense chiefs are set to meet at an annual multinational meeting of defense chiefs in Singapore in July and their annual Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul in October.
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