Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, waves as he is recognized by U.S. President Donald Trump at a reception commemorating the 35th anniversary of the attack on the Beirut Barracks in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, U.S., October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Al Drago/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. military officer said on Monday that the United States would have to start making changes to its military posture on the Korean peninsula over time if talks with North Korea advance.
“The more successful we are in the diplomatic track, the more uncomfortable we will be in the military space,” Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a forum at Duke University.
“Because over time, this negotiation will take a form where we’re going to have to start making some changes to the military posture on the peninsula. And we’re prepared to do that in support of Secretary Pompeo,” Dunford said. He did not elaborate on what changes might be expected.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol in New York on Thursday to discuss North Korea’s denuclearization.
In Washington last week, South Korea’s defense minister said the two countries would decide by December on major joint military exercises for 2019. Vigilant Ace, suspended this month, is one of several such exercises halted to encourage dialogue with Pyongyang, which has criticized joint U.S.-South Korea exercises in the past.
Although larger exercises were suspended, the two countries have continued small-scale drills.
On Monday, U.S. and South Korean marines conducted military drills under the Korean Marine Exchange Program for the first time in months, according to the South Korean ministry of defense.
North Korea has not tested a ballistic missile or nuclear weapon for nearly a year, and has said it has shuttered its main nuclear test site and plans to dismantle several more facilities.
In recent weeks, North Korea has pressed harder for what it sees as reciprocal concessions by the United States and other countries.
Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by Sandra Maler