U.S. Defense Secretary and his South Korean counterpart on Friday hailed a promise by North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, but stressed the need for verifiable progress.
In a joint communique following 2 1/2 hours of annual defense consultations, the two welcomed Pyongyang's promise in six-party talks to abandon its development of nuclear weapons, but added that concerns remain.
"Both sides noted that North Korea's continued development of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, along with the danger of proliferation of those weapons and technologies, are causes of significant concern," the communique said.
It said they were hopeful it would "facilitate the verifiable nuclear dismantlement in order to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula at the earliest opportunity."
During the talks, Donald H. Rumsfeld and Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung also agreed to "appropriately accelerate discussions on command relations and wartime operational control." Seoul has been seeking control of the joint command of troops here during wartime.
In a news conference, Rumsfeld said the U.S. welcomes efforts by Korea to "take on more responsibility," reports the AP.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea