Dempsey to visit South Korea on Sunday

In a late addition to next week’s Asia tour, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will visit in South Korea on Sunday, the E-Ring has learned, as tensions between North Korea and U.S. allies show signs of easing.  Dempsey takes off on Friday for a long-scheduled trip to China, his first ...

DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen
DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen
DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen

In a late addition to next week's Asia tour, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will visit in South Korea on Sunday, the E-Ring has learned, as tensions between North Korea and U.S. allies show signs of easing. 

Dempsey takes off on Friday for a long-scheduled trip to China, his first visit, and Japan. Pentagon officials wanted to gauge the North Korean standoff closer to his departure date before deciding whether to touch down in Seoul.

The visit gives Dempsey a chance to makeup a face-to-face meeting with South Korea's Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Jung Seung-jo, which was supposed to happen this week during U.S.-Republic of Korea talks at the Pentagon. But because of the Korean crisis, Jung remained home on the peninsula, as did U.S. Forces Korea commanding general, Gen. James Thurman, who would have been in Washington for the talks and to appear before the House Armed Services Committee. The bilateral talks instead were conducted as a secure video teleconference, and included the U.S. Pacific commander, Adm. Samuel Locklear. 

In a late addition to next week’s Asia tour, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will visit in South Korea on Sunday, the E-Ring has learned, as tensions between North Korea and U.S. allies show signs of easing. 

Dempsey takes off on Friday for a long-scheduled trip to China, his first visit, and Japan. Pentagon officials wanted to gauge the North Korean standoff closer to his departure date before deciding whether to touch down in Seoul.

The visit gives Dempsey a chance to makeup a face-to-face meeting with South Korea’s Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Jung Seung-jo, which was supposed to happen this week during U.S.-Republic of Korea talks at the Pentagon. But because of the Korean crisis, Jung remained home on the peninsula, as did U.S. Forces Korea commanding general, Gen. James Thurman, who would have been in Washington for the talks and to appear before the House Armed Services Committee. The bilateral talks instead were conducted as a secure video teleconference, and included the U.S. Pacific commander, Adm. Samuel Locklear. 

In a joint communiqué, Dempsey and Jung declared the U.S.-ROK alliance "stronger than ever," on Wednesday.

"They also reaffirmed that both countries will respond firmly to any provocation by North Korea," according to the document. In October, both sides will seek approval on the specifics for a new command structure for combined forces on the Korean Peninsula. 

Dempsey leaves Washington on Friday and after stopping in Alaska will visit South Korea on Sunday. He then is scheduled to spend four days in China, visiting with his counterpart, Gen. Fang Fenghui, and other senior defense and political officials.

Dempsey may meet China’s Presiden Xi Jinping, according to the chairman’s staff, but Chinese officials have yet to finalize their schedules. 

Dempsey also will visit several People’s Liberation Army units, which officials declined to name, citing security measures.

In his second visit to Japan as chairman, Dempsey will meet his counterpart Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of the Joint Staff, to talk about North Korea and the gamut of "regional issues," a Dempsey spokesman said.

 

Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge. Twitter: @FPBaron

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