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New U.S. Forces commander doesn't rule out North Korea talks

By
Elizabeth Shim
Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks takes the U.S. Forces Korea colors from Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, on April 30. Photo courtesy of Army Sgt. Russell Youmans/U.S. Department of Defense
Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks takes the U.S. Forces Korea colors from Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, on April 30. Photo courtesy of Army Sgt. Russell Youmans/U.S. Department of Defense

SEOUL, May 12 (UPI) -- The new U.S. Forces Korea commander said he looks forward to the resumption of talks with North Korea on the armistice.

Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, who took over command of the forces from Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, visited the joint security area between North and South on Thursday.

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Brooks said developments come about swiftly on the Korean peninsula, Yonhap reported.

That doesn't rule out the possibility of talks, however.

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"We look forward to the time that [talks] can resume again," he said, referring to the armistice agreement that halted the 1950-53 Korean War.

But U.S. and South Korean troops must remain vigilant, the new commander said.

"Each time I come back [here], it reminds me of how quickly things can change on the Korean peninsula and why it is that we must be ready all the time and remain strong," Brooks said.

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The U.S. Forces Korea motto is "Be Ready to 'Fight Tonight.'"

Brooks, a four-star general, is no stranger to Korea. He has held command at every level of the U.S. military, served on the joint staff and worked as the deputy director of operations at U.S. Central Command.

"In this position, I am certainly committed to maintaining the strength of the alliance and also protecting the armistice as well as we can," Brooks said.

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North Korea has escalated tensions on the peninsula this year with multiple missile tests and a universally condemned nuclear test in January. Kim Jong Un recently defended his nuclear program, and announced Pyongyang is ready to be accepted as a "responsible nuclear weapons state."

Outgoing commander Scaparrotti is to serve as the commander of the U.S. European Command and as supreme commander of NATO, according to the Defense Department.

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