South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday said he will “carefully consider” the suspension of regular ROK-U.S. joint military exercises if “sincere dialogue” between the two Koreas and the U.S. continues, the Blue House announced.
Moon convened an all-member meeting of his National Security Council (NSC) between 1600 and 1730 local time to “assess the results of the North-U.S. summit and discuss countermeasures from our government,” the Blue House said in a written statement.
Speaking at the meeting, Moon responded to U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments on Tuesday that he “will be stopping” the joint military drills while Pyongyang and Washington continue dialogue.
“President Moon said a flexible change in the military pressure on North Korea is needed in accordance with the spirit of building mutual trust agreed in the Panmunjom Declaration,” the presidential office said.
The ROK President said the change would be necessary if “the North sincerely take measures to achieve denuclearization and sincere dialogue between the two Koreas and the U.S. continue to resolve hostile relations.”
Should Pyongyang take those steps, Moon said, “he would carefully consider the issue of [suspending] the ROK-U.S. joint military exercises and instructed to closely consult the details with the U.S.”
Tuesday saw Trump also say it would be “inappropriate” to stage the joint ROK-U.S. military drills “under the circumstances that we are negotiating a very comprehensive, complete deal.”
The U.S. and South Korea typically hold large-scale joint military drills every year, including Foal Eagle/Key Resolve (FE/KR) in March and April and Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) in August.
The South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Thursday insisted there was “close coordination between the South and the U.S.” on the issue of halting the annual joint exercises.
A ministry spokesperson made the comment when asked to respond to a CNN report that the Trump administration would make an official announcement on the suspension of UFG as early as Thursday.
Thursday also saw the ROK President argue the issue of establishing peace and development on the Korean peninsula should be approached with a “more comprehensive perspective.”
“We should accept the new spirit of the age, which is the peace on the Peninsula and co-prosperity of the South and the North, beyond security challenges including the North’s denuclearization and the guarantee of the regime,” Moon said at the beginning of the meeting.
Thursday’s meeting is the first of its kind since November, when it was called in response to Pyongyang’s test launch of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Meanwhile, Moon on Thursday held a one-hour meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo beginning at 0900 local time, South Korean presidential spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom said during a news briefing.
Pompeo reportedly debriefed the ROK President on the result of the DPRK-U.S. summit, and the two shared their views on the meeting.
“President Moon set forth as a premise that the Korean people, who would be the biggest victims if North Korea used nuclear weapons and missiles, stood in active support of the results of the North Korea-U.S. summit,” Moon was quoted by the spokesperson.
“He continued to say that some experts’ low evaluations of the summit results were out of touch with public sentiment.”
During the meeting, Pompeo asked Moon to ”play a leading role” in achieving the North’s denuclearization, the presidential spokesperson Kim said.
“Secretary of State Pompeo asked the President to closely consult the Chairman in the process of North Korea’s denuclearization and the development of inter-Korean relations,” he said.
In response to Pompeo’s suggestion, Moon said he would “endeavor to create a virtuous cycle in which the development of the relationship between the two Koreas and between the North and the United States mutually reinforce each other” through active communication with the North.
The complete denuclearization on the Korean peninsula would be achieved “at the earliest date possible,” Moon added.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: South Korean presidential office
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