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S Korea to Establish Joint Defense System with US
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South Korea and the United States will create a joint defense system to replace the current combined forces command after South Korea takes back wartime operational control of its military forces, a South Korean official said Monday.

"A new cooperative system will be established. South Korea will take charge of defense with the US supporting it," said Kwon An-do, assistant minister of the Defense Ministry, in a local radio program.

According to Kwon, the two sides will set up a new organization to direct joint military operations during both peacetime and wartime.

The new system will be stronger than US-Japan alliance model, Kwon added.

The US-led UN Command captured the operational control of South Korean military forces in 1950 when the Korean War erupted.

In 1978, the Combined Forces Command (CFC) was created and took over wartime control rights from the UNC.

South Korea took back the peacetime control of South Korea's 680,000-strong forces in 1994 while the wartime operational control remains in the hands of the US commander in South Korea.

Since October last year, South Korea and the US have held several rounds of negotiations on the creation of new command systems that can replace the CFC.

However, the two sides still have differences over the timeline of, and roadmap for, the transfer of wartime operational control.

About 30,000 US troops are currently stationed in South Korea.

(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2006)

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