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(2nd LD) Seoul hints at possible suspension of joint military drills with U.S.

2018/06/13 15:57

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(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, additional information in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, June 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae hinted at the possibility of suspending joint military drills with the United States to assist ongoing denuclearization negotiations with North Korea on Wednesday, one day after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would stop what he called expensive and provocative "war games" with South Korea.

"For now, there still is a need to find out the exact meaning and intention of President Trump's remarks. However, as long as serious discussions are held between North Korea and the United States on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establishment of peace, we believe we need to consider various ways to further move forward such dialogue," Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, told reporters.

Following his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on Tuesday, the U.S. president said he will stop the war games with South Korea "as long as we (the North and the U.S.) are negotiating in good faith."

   A Cheong Wa Dae official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was still not clear what Trump meant by "war games."

   Seoul and Washington have long insisted their joint military drills are strictly defensive.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called for an all-member meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) on Thursday to discuss such issues, the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said.

"Tomorrow's meeting is aimed at evaluating the outcome of the North Korea-U.S. summit held yesterday in Singapore and discuss follow-up measures to implement the agreement reached at the summit," Kim said.

The U.S. currently maintains 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

The war ended only with an armistice, leaving the two Koreas technically at war, even to date.

The leaders of the divided Koreas agreed to make joints efforts to formally end the war in their two bilateral summits held on April 27 and May 26.

In a press conference following his summit with Kim, the U.S. president said his dialogue with Kim will eventually involve the South Korean president, apparently to formally end the war.

bdk@yna.co.kr

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