WASHINGTON -- Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will depart for Seoul Monday evening to meet with top South Koreans and U.S. military leaders.
"Given the ongoing tensions on the peninsula this presented a good opportunity to reaffirm and reassure the South Koreans of our commitment to the alliance," Kirby said. "This should not be viewed as an emergency meeting." He also said the press should not read this as "correcting any deficiencies."
Admiral Mullen will hold a news conference at the end of the day Wednesday with the South Korean Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Han Min-Goo. He'll also meet with the the new defense minister and Gen. Walter Sharp, the commander of U.S. Forces in Korea.
At this point Adm. Mullen has no plans to visit the demilitarized zone or to meet with U.S. troops.
The visit comes as the South Korean military began live fire naval exercises Monday. The U.S. military recently wrapped up joint naval exercises with the South in wake of a North Korean attack on the island of Yeonpyeong on November 23. That attack resulted in the exchange of roughly 200 rounds of artillery between both sides and left 4 South Koreans dead.