US top commander in S. Korea cancels trip to Washington amid tensions

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-4-8 14:08:46

Top US military commander in South Korea cancelled his trip to Washington amid the heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the Combined Forces Command said Monday.

Army Gen. James Thurman, commander of the 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea, had planned to testify at a series of US congressional hearings next week, but he delayed the testimony as tensions escalated on the peninsula, an official at the Combined Forces Command said by phone, citing the statement unveiled by the US Forces Korea (USFK).

"Given the current situation, General Thurman will remain in Seoul next week as a prudent measure. He has asked the Senate Armed Services Committee, the House Armed Services Committee and the House Appropriations Committee-Defense to excuse his absence until he can testify at a later date," the USFK statement said. " He looks forward to appearing before the committee at the earliest possible date."

The move is the latest proof that the US military officials are taking escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula seriously.

South Korea's unification minister told lawmakers that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) might be preparing for its fourth nuclear test, answering the suspicion that there is a rise in movements of personnel and vehicles near the test complex at Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province where Pyongyang conducted its previous three nuke tests.

Kim Kwan-jin, minister of National Defense, told lawmakers last week that the DPRK has moved an intermediate-range missile to its east coast for test-firing or military drill, boosting expectations that Pyongyang may fire it off around the middle of April when it celebrates the birthday of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the DPRK and the late grandfather of Kim Jung-un.

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