U.S., South Korean defense chiefs discuss regional stability

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 29, 2011 8:43 PM
U.S., South Korean defense chiefs discuss regional stability

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his South Korean counterpart discussed the stability of the Korean peninsula on Thursday, the day after North Korea mourned the death of its long-time leader Kim Jong-il.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Panetta spoke with South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin for 20 minutes.

"The Secretary and the Minister shared the view that peace and stability on the Korean peninsula is our overarching priority and agreed to maintain close cooperation and coordination in the weeks and months ahead," Little said in a statement.

Around 100,000 people gathered in Pyongyang on Wednesday to mourn the former North Korean leader, who died on December 17.

As his son Kim Jong-un, in his late 20s, takes over, worries abound about the direction and the stability of the unpredictable, nuclear-armed state, especially among U.S. allies such as South Korea.

(Reporting By Missy Ryan)