US, South Korea, Japan to Hold Security Talks in Seoul Next Week

Posted January 26th, 2012 at 1:05 am (UTC-5)
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South Korea says it will host talks with U.S. and Japanese defense officials early next week in Seoul.

Government officials in the South Korean capital, Seoul, told VOA the three-way “security consultations” will be held Monday and Tuesday.

Analysts say they are part of an ongoing discussion among Seoul, Washington and Tokyo on operational contingencies concerning North Korea. But a South Korean defense ministry spokesman would not confirm that, only saying the discussions will involve “humanitarian” issues.

Media in Seoul report top South Korean and U.S. military officers met Tuesday at the Pentagon to sign a preliminary agreement for a new operational plan against potential North Korean provocations.

The United States, South Korea and Japan held high-level diplomatic talks earlier this month in Washington on ways to restart stalled six-nation negotiations over North Korea's nuclear program. Before his unexpected death in December, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il had expressed a desire to return to the six nation negotiations.

Meanwhile, U.S. military officials say planning is continuing for next month's annual command post exercise named “Key Resolve,” which would involve American forces in South Korea and Japan, as well as South Korean soldiers.

U.S. and South Korean officials say the exercise is defensive in nature. However, North Korea usually raises objections to the war games, terming them a provocation.