Top U.S. military officer Mullen to visit South Korea

08:18, December 07, 2010      

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U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen is to visit South Korea for high-level consultations with defense officials there, the chairman's spokesman John Kirby, said Monday.

Mullen will consult with South Korean defense leaders and participate in meetings in Seoul, Wednesday. The visit is the result of "an interagency decision made late last week," Kirby said.

The visit comes as tensions remain high on the Korean Peninsula following fatal exchange of artillery fire between South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on Nov. 23 near a disputed western maritime border.

The discussions will focus on the alliance and new ways to cooperate and improve interoperability, Kirby said. Army Gen. Walter Sharp, who leads United Nations Command in South Korea, is to participate.

Mullen is to meet with new South Korean National Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and Army Gen. Han Min-koo, the chairman of the South Korean military. He also is to meet with other members of the South Korean national security team.

The visit is not an emergency consultation, but intended to reassure South Korea the United States "continue to stand by them in defense of their territory," Kirby said. "This is not meant as a message to anybody. But, that said, we've made it very clear internationally ... that we are there to stay, we are committed to that alliance, and nobody ... should mistake our resolve."

Source: Xinhua


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