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Esper: US Willing to Engage Diplomatically with N. Korea

Write: 2019-08-09 17:17:27Update: 2019-08-09 18:08:18

Esper: US Willing to Engage Diplomatically with N. Korea

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo held talks with U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in Seoul. Esper said that the U.S. is willing to "engage diplomatically" to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.  
Kim Bum-soo has more.  

Report: South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper have reaffirmed that they will support diplomatic efforts to fully denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

[Sound bite: US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper] 
"As President Trump has made clear, the United States is willing to engage diplomatically with North Korea to make progress on all commitments made in the Singapore joint statement to achieve those ends." 

[Sound bite: S. Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo (Korean)]
"I hope that the militaries of South Korea and United States continue to firmly maintain their joint defense system and cooperate to overcome any situations related to national security, in order to realize the plans of President Moon Jae-in and President Trump."  

The two sides further clarified their stance in a joint press statement released after two hours of talks in Seoul on Friday. 

[Sound bite: US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper]
"Together with our allies around the region, we will remain resolute in our enforcement of United Nations Security Council resolutions until the North engages in complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."  

During the meeting, Jeong and Esper took note that significant progress is being made to ensure that conditions are met for the U.S. transfer of the wartime operational control(OPCON) of their allied troops to South Korea.  

The two sides also agreed that the OPCON transfer must serve to solidify their alliance for peace and stability on the peninsula and in the world.

A South Korean defense official said, however, that the two sides did not touch on the thorny issue of how much the each side must pay for the upkeep of 28-thousand-500 American troops stationed in South Korea.

Esper is on his first overseas trip since his appointment as defense secretary. His visit to Seoul came shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump said South Korea agreed to "pay a lot more" to shoulder the costs required for the American military presence on the Korean Peninsula. Trump also said talks are under way on the matter, a claim that was refuted by South Korea's foreign ministry. 

Also during the talks, the U.S. side reportedly asked for South Korea's support in ensuring the freedom of navigation in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Seoul is said to have conveyed that it is mulling various options to ensure the safety of vessels navigating in the region.
Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News.

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