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S.Korea asks U.S. to delay transfer of wartime operational control


16:17, July 17, 2013

SEOUL, July 17 (Xinhua) -- South Korea has asked the United States to delay the scheduled transfer of its wartime operational control, according to a U.S. government official.

The U.S. official was cited by Yonhap News Agency as saying on Wednesday that South Korea had offered to postpone the transition of wartime operational control of South Korean forces from Washington to Seoul, currently slated for Dec. 1, 2015.

Seoul initially agreed to retrieve the command of its forces in April 2012, but it called for a delay following the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in 2010.

Controversies emerged in South Korea over the timing of the transfer amid escalating geopolitical risks on the Korean Peninsula caused by Pyongyang's third nuclear test in February and long-range rocket launch in December 2012.

Seoul handed over the wartime command of its troops to Washington during the 1950-1953 Korean War, and some 28,500 U.S. troops have been stationed in the country as a legacy of the war. Seoul regained the peacetime operational control in 1994.

Seoul's Defense Ministry said in a statement that it has made an offer to the U.S. for reviewing the transfer of wartime operational control while taking into account the current security conditions such as deepening problems of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear program.

The ministry said that defense chiefs of Seoul and Washington would continue to consult on the issue through the Military Committee Meeting (MCM) and the Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) , noting that it will put top priority on firm security.

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