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Trump-Kim Summit

Moon says may consider military drill suspension with US

SEOUL (Kyodo) -- South Korea may consider suspending its military drills with the United States if North Korea continues to hold sincere negotiations with the two countries, President Moon Jae In said Thursday.

Moon told a meeting of the National Security Council that South Korea is also prepared to make "flexible changes" to its military stance toward North Korea if Pyongyang implements concrete measures to relieve its hostile relations with the two countries.

He said it is important to go "beyond North Korea's denuclearization and security guarantee, which is peace on the Korean Peninsula and co-prosperity of the two Koreas."

The remarks came after U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier this week that he will be suspending "war games" with South Korea as long as North Korea continues denuclearization talks in good faith.

The meeting of the security council was held to assess the outcome of Trump's high-profile summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on Tuesday and the U.S. president's subsequent announcement about ending the military exercises.

At the summit, Kim committed to "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, while Trump pledged to provide security guarantees to Pyongyang.

"Under the circumstances that we are negotiating a very comprehensive, complete deal, I think it's inappropriate to be having war games," Trump said in his solo post-summit press conference.

Trump also said the suspension is needed because the drills are "tremendously expensive."

On Wednesday, Kim Eui Kyeom, a spokesman of Moon's office, said there was still a need to figure out what Trump actually meant by his comments.

When Moon met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier in the day, both sides exchanged opinions on South Korea's joint military drills with the United States, the presidential office said, without providing details.

North Korea has long demanded that the United States and South Korea stop conducting joint military exercises, which it regards as a rehearsal for invasion.

During the meeting with Pompeo, Moon praised the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit this week for freeing the world from fears of war.

"The most important achievement of the summit is that not only Americans, Japanese and Koreans but also people in the whole world are now free from the threats of war, nuclear weapons and long-range missiles," Moon said in the meeting in Seoul.

Moon said the summit was "truly a historic feat" and moved the world toward an era of peace and prosperity.

Moon was also quoted by his office as telling Pompeo that skepticism from some experts fails to acknowledge the reality that most of the South Korean public welcomes the outcome of the summit.

Pompeo praised Moon's efforts, saying a successful summit between Moon and Kim earlier this year served as a great stepping stone for the first summit between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

Before heading to Beijing on Thursday, Pompeo was in Seoul to meet Moon, as well as his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, to brief them on the results of the summit.

 

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