U.S. and South Korean defense ministers will hold talks in Washington, D.C.

South Korean Defense Minister Jeong-kyoung Doo will hold talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Washington on February 24, the Republic of Korea’s Defense Ministry said.

U.S. and South Korean defense ministers will hold talks in Washington, D.C.

Jeong Gyeong-du will fly to the United States on February 23 for a six-day visit, the first since Esper took office in July last year. Other senior defense officials will also participate in the talks.

“Jeong Gyeong-Doo and Mark Esper will share their assessments of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula at these talks, as well as discuss in depth various outstanding issues of the alliance, including progress in the process of transferring (Seoul) operational control of troops”, –  the ministry said in a statement.

Ryonhap News Agency reported that in the course of negotiations they will also discuss the issues of joint military exercises and sharing of expenses for maintenance of the American contingent on the Korean peninsula. The U.S. and South Korea continue to negotiate defense spending sharing, but have not yet reached an agreement amid Washington’s demand for a sharp increase in Seoul’s share.

“All important defense issues will be discussed at the meeting, and the issue of distribution of defense spending will obviously be one of them”,  – the ministry representative told the agency.

After the Korean War of 1950-1953, South Korea transferred the right to control its troops to the U.S. to protect the country from the threat of invasion by the DPRK. The right to command its troops in peacetime was returned to Seoul in 1994, but the right of operational control still remains with the US.

An agreement to transfer operational control during wartime to the DPRK Armed Forces was reached in 2007. The transfer was expected to be completed by 2012. In 2010 and 2015, however, Seoul repeatedly requested Washington to postpone the transfer to a later date.