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Gates to talk with S. Korean counterpart

June 2, 2008 at 4:18 PM
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SEOUL, June 2 (UPI) -- A change in command and changes in U.S.-South Korean relations topped the agenda of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' visit to Seoul, officials said.

Gates said he would speak with South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee to discuss broadening the two countries' relationship to include regional and global issues Tuesday before officiating at the change-of-command ceremonies at U.S. Forces Korea, the Defense Department said in a news release.

South Korea has an "increasing role and prominence" in a number of activities, including participating in matters involving Iraq and Lebanon and possible returning to Afghanistan to trilateral engagement with the United States and Japan, Gates said

"They are pretty engaged around the world," Gates said of the South Korean military. "But I think there are opportunities for further cooperation."

The command is being transferred from Army Gen. Burwell Bell to Army Gen. Walter Sharp.

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