It was confirmed yesterday that U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kathleen Stephens visited Korea from January 25-28 to have a discussion with government officials about creating a peace regime on the Korean peninsula and the structure and role of the United Nations Command after dissolving the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command.
Stephens visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, National Intelligence Service, the Ministry of Unification and the Ministry of National Defense, and reportedly discussed follow-up measures to U.S. President Bushs remark in November that the U.S. was willing to declare an end to the Korean War if North Korea renounced its nuclear weapons program.
Taking office and ranked number two behind Christopher Hill, in charge of East Asian and Pacific Affairs of State Department in June 2005, she has mainly been responsible for implementing measures to creating a peace regime on the Korean peninsula.
A government official said yesterday, We were given an overall review of pending security issues between Korea and the U.S. We talked about a peace treaty as well as the six-party talks.
The official said, If North Korea proposes a timetable for nuclear freeze or dismantlement, Korea and the U.S. are ready to discuss the establishment of a peace treaty with the North.
Another official said that they also talked about the main agenda for the Security Policy Initiative (SPI), which will be held in Seoul starting February 8.
He said, In association with Commander of the U.S. Forces in Korea Burwell Bells remark that the UN Command should be enhanced to assume wartime operations if the need arises, we discussed the organization and role of the UN Command after the dissolving of the CFC and the resolution of the wartime operational control issue.
Meanwhile, an official at the U.S. Embassy in Korea said Stephens visit was intended as just a regular work consultation with her Korean counterparts.