S. Korea, U.S. to hold 2nd talks for wartime control transfer

SEOUL, Jan. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States will hold a second round of working-level talks this week to discuss details of the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON), the defense ministry here said Sunday.

During the scheduled talks to be held in Washington for two days beginning Monday, the allies will continue their discussions about the timing and detailed conditions of the transfer, the ministry said.

South Korea was scheduled to regain its wartime operational command in 2015, which was handed over to the U.S.-led Allied forces after the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War. The Seoul government, however, has requested a further delay in the transition, citing growing threats from North Korea.

South Korea regained peacetime OPCON of its troops in 1994.

The previous round of talks, the first of its kind, took place last month in Seoul. It followed the agreement last October by the sides to reassess the 2015 deadline for the transfer.

During the December session, Seoul and Washington agreed to take into consideration North Korea's weapons program and South Korean forces' deterrence and command capabilities in deciding the timing of the transition.

"We expect the consultations for the transfer to be wrapped up within the first half of this year," a military official familiar with the issue said.

"The final agreement on the issue would be reached during the annual Security Consultative Meeting due in October," he added.

Currently, some 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, as the three-year conflict ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.

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