Visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper met with South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo today.
A number of bilateral issues were discussed, including North Korea and the transfer of wartime operational control.
The new U.S. defense chief said South Korea is the linchpin of peace in Northeast Asia, also stressing the ironclad South Korea-U.S. alliance.
Much attention was focus on whether Esper would bring up the issue of increasing South Korea's share of defense costs, but not much was revealed about that.
For further discussion on this issue, Dr. Go Myong-hyun, research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, joins me in the studio tonight.
- Trump: S. Korea should pay substantially more for defense costs. Why?
- during his opening statement said Japan's trade curbs are undermining S. Korea-U.S.-Japan trilateral security ties, but Esper did not make specific comments on that or on the hot button issue of GSOMIA. Do you think there was a discussion on GSOMIA that weren't revealed to the press?
- Deployment of ground-launched intermediate-range missiles in Asia and South Korea's participation in U.S.-led coalition to guard the Strait of Hormuz also garnered much attention prior to talks between the defense chiefs of S. Korea, U.S. But they were not brought up What does the U.S. want the most from S. Korea?
- Esper mentioned some progress made towards the conditions-based transition of the wartime operational control of the combined forces command to a South Korean commander. He said this shows the strength and trust between the allies that no adversaries can match. Can you give us a recap on how things are on the OPCON front?
- North Korea claimed the projectiles launched on Tuesday were new tactical guided missiles and in a rare move, showed a video of the missiles destroying targets. It also boasted how the missiles few across the North's capital area and the central inland region to precisely hit the targeted islet in the East Sea. How do you analyse the claims?
- N. Korea also unveiled a photo of Kim Jong-un, who oversaw the missile launches, with a group of missile developers and high-ranking North Korean officials. What can we read from the picture?
- North Korea is set to hold its 14th Supreme People's Assembly on the 29th. Do you think the date was set in consideration of possible talks with the U.S.?
- Esper: U.S. and its allies will firmly implement UN sanctions until the North takes actions for a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. Further provocations expected from the North?
- No condemnation on North Korea's missile launches in the joint statement following Jeong-Esper defense talks. Why?