Mullen to Visit Seoul to Consult, Reassure Allies

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2010 — The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will fly to South Korea tonight for high-lev­el con­sul­ta­tions with defense offi­cials there, the chairman’s spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kir­by, said today.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen will con­sult with South Kore­an defense lead­ers and demon­strate the strength of the U.S.-South Kore­an alliance. The chair­man will par­tic­i­pate in meet­ings in Seoul, the nation’s capi­tol, Wednes­day.

Mullen’s vis­it is the result of “an inter­a­gency deci­sion made late last week,” Kir­by said. The vis­it comes as ten­sions remain high on the penin­su­la fol­low­ing the North Kore­an artillery strike on Yeong­pyeong island last month. The attack killed four South Kore­ans — two civil­ians and two Marines.

The dis­cus­sions will focus on the alliance and new ways to coop­er­ate and improve inter­op­er­abil­i­ty, Kir­by said. Army Gen. Wal­ter L. “Skip” Sharp, who leads Unit­ed Nations Com­mand in South Korea, is to par­tic­i­pate.

Mullen is to meet with new South Kore­an Nation­al Defense Min­is­ter Kim Kwan-jin and Army Gen. Han Min-koo, the chair­man of the South Kore­an mil­i­tary. He also is to meet with oth­er mem­bers of the South Kore­an nation­al secu­ri­ty team.

The vis­it is intend­ed to reas­sure South Korea “that we con­tin­ue to stand by them in defense of their ter­ri­to­ry,” Kir­by said. “This [vis­it] is not meant as a mes­sage to any­body. But, that said, we’ve made it very clear inter­na­tion­al­ly … that we are there to stay, we are com­mit­ted to that alliance, and nobody … should mis­take our resolve.” Kir­by said this is not an emer­gency con­sul­ta­tion.

“If it was an emer­gency meet­ing I sus­pect he would have been on a plane a lot soon­er than tonight,” he said. “Obvi­ous­ly the sit­u­a­tion remains tense on the penin­su­la, but I don’t believe any­body thinks we’re in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion. In fact, things are at a rel­a­tive­ly sta­ble lev­el, giv­en the unpro­voked artillery attack … and South Korea’s restraint.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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