South Korea and the United States will hold a high-level defense talk next week during which Seoul will propose modernization of military base that hosts THAAD air defense system.
The 21st Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD) between South Korea’s Defense Ministry and the U.S. Defense Department will be held between Aug. 16 and 17 in Seoul.
Deputy Minister for National Defense Policy Heo Tae-keun will lead the South Korean delegation for the first time since his appointment this month. Siddharth Mohandas, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia, will represent the American side, reports Korea Herald.
Topics for discussion include trilateral security coordination among South Korea, the U.S. and Japan as well as South Korea’s plan to expeditiously repair and refurbish the military base that hosts the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to ensure its full-scale operation.
South Korea installed a missile battery employing the THAAD response to nuclear and missile threats from North Korea in 2017.
The two sides will discuss a wide range of alliance issues, including “policy coordination in deterring and responding to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats,” South Korea’s Defense Ministry in a press statement.
Seoul and Washington will try to figure out ways to enhance the viability of the U.S. extended deterrence in accordance with the agreements at the May 21 South Korea-U.S. summit.
Specifically, both sides will have further concrete discussions on the reactivation of the vice ministerial-level Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG) and agenda topics for the meeting, a senior ministry official was quoted as saying by the report.
Defense chiefs from both countries tentatively agreed to hold an EDSCG meeting in September during an in-person meeting held in late July in Washington. The last such meeting was held in January 2018.
The deployment of the U.S. strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula will be discussed in detail at the upcoming KIDD, the unnamed senior official explained. At the May 21 summit, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and US President Joe Biden previously reaffirmed the US’ commitment to deploying US strategic assets “in a timely and coordinated manner as necessary.”
The KIDD will be a venue to discuss follow-up measures to the agreements at May 21 summit and prepare for an annual, defense ministerial-level Security Consultative Meeting that is expected to be held this autumn, the unnamed senior official explained.
South Korea and the U.S. plan to conduct an assessment of the South Korean military’s Full Operational Capability during the upcoming combined military exercise that is scheduled to be held between Aug. 22 and Sep. 1. The FOC assessment is a required process to transfer wartime operational control to South Korea.
The FOC assessment is the second part of the three-phase system to evaluate the South Korean military’s capabilities to command the Future Combined Forces Command or F-CFC.
The two nations will also talk about how to upgrade their bilateral ties to a “global comprehensive strategic alliance,” the source said. To that end, both sides will have an in-depth discussion on ways to advance cooperation in the field of cyber security, defense and science technology, defense industry and outer space.