SEOUL – South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday that Seoul was open to suspending annual joint military drills with the United States in order to ease tension on the Korean Peninsula.
In a meeting of South Korea’s National Security Council, Moon said Seoul might halt the drills if Pyongyang implemented denuclearization measures and continued with talks.
“The country needs to flexibly change its military pressure against the North in the spirit of building mutual trust as agreed in the Panmunjom Declaration,” Moon said in a statement.
Moon’s comments come after US President Donald Trump made a surprise announcement on Tuesday about ending joint military drills with South Korea, following his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.
Moon told the NSC, which includes the ministers of defense and security, that it should closely coordinate with the US about the measure.
Ahead of the NSC meeting, Moon and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha had met the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the US-North Korea summit.
After the meeting, Kang had ruled out friction in the Seoul-Washington alliance over suspension of joint drills and said it would be decided through joint consultations.
North Korea objects to the US-South Korea drills as a rehearsal for invading its territory, and has been demanding their suspension.