SEOUL, Republic of Korea — U.S. and South Korean defense officials reviewed the state of the military alliance between the two countries and charted the way ahead Friday in Seoul, South Korea, during the 51st annual Security Consultative Meeting.
Following their meeting, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo briefed the press on the talks. The two leaders said the discussions covered a wide range of issues, including wartime operational control, the Special Measures Agreement and other ways to enhance security cooperation between the close treaty allies.
‘‘The United States remains fully committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea,’’ Esper told the press. “The U.S.-(South Korean) alliance is ironclad and I am confident our nations will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder to enhance security, stability and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in the broader Indo-Pacific region.’’
The U.S. and South Korea will continue to enhance the defense capabilities of the alliance to help realize the goal of “final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea,’’ Esper said.
Part of this goal is the continued enforcement of U.N. Security Council resolutions designed to encourage North Korea to stop its dangerous process of building nuclear and missile technologies.
The two men addressed progress on the transition of wartime operational control. Both are in agreement with senior military officials’ assessment of the future Combined Forces Command’s initial operational capability.
‘‘Overall, we agree that substantive progress has been made in the conditions-based transfer of operational control to a (South Korean) commander,’’ the defense secretary said. “There is more work to be done, however, and we remain committed to close cooperation on this topic.’’
Esper and Jeong also discussed the Special Measures Agreement, which is being negotiated now. This is a type of burden-sharing agreement, and is how South Korea shares the costs of U.S. forces to defend the country. The current agreement expires at the end of the year.