Dialogue open for N. Korea but no provocative acts: presidential aides

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (Yonhap) -- Top South Korean and U.S. presidential aides agreed Thursday that the allies will deal sternly with any North Korean provocations, with the door kept open for dialogue.

Meeting with White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice in Washington, Kim Jang-soo, chief of Cheong Wa Dae's national security office, also agreed to establish a "hotline" to discuss the North Korea problem and other pending issues, according to Kim's office.

"As part of efforts for substantial progress in denuclearizing North Korea, they reaffirmed the common position of no talks for the sake of talks," it said in a press release.

Kim and Rice shared the view that it is crucial for North Korea to take sincere steps toward denuclearization, it added.

They also agreed to work together for an early deal on one of the most sensitive alliance issues -- setting a new timeline for the transfer of operational control (OPCON) of South Korean military forces in the event of war, said the office.

The defense ministers of the allies failed to set a new target date for the OPCON transition when they held the annual Security Consultative Meeting in early October.

Seoul has proposed a delay in the schedule, set for December 2015, saying it needs more time to prepare for assuming a leading role in conducting a war against North Korea, armed with nuclear bombs and advanced missiles.

"With regard to the OPCON transition issue, the two sides agreed to closely cooperate with each other for the smooth process of reaching a deal on the time and conditions by the first half of 2014," Kim's office said.

Kim arrived here Wednesday for a four-day stay, his first trip to the U.S. since taking office in February. He is scheduled to meet Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday.

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