South Korea says halt to US drills may be needed to help denuclearisation talks: Report

South Korea says halt to US drills may be needed to help denuclearisation talks: Report

South Korea and US Marines take part in a joint military drill
File photo of South Korea and US Marines taking part in a joint military drill in the southeastern port of Pohang. (Photo: AFP/Jung Yeon-Je) 

SEOUL: A halt in joint military drills with the United States may be necessary to expedite talks on North Korea's denuclearisation, South Korea's presidential office said on Wednesday (Jun 13), according to the country's Yonhap news agency.

"We believe there is a need to consider various ways to further promote dialogue as long as serious discussions are being held between the United States and North Korea for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and establishment of peace," spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom was quoted as saying. 

The remarks came a day after the historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

At a press conference after the meeting, Trump said he will put an end to the "tremendously expensive" war games with South Korea. He added that continuing the routine military exercises would be "inappropriate" while Washington fleshes out a comprehensive denuclearisation deal with Pyongyang.

"We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should," Trump told reporters.

South Korea's presidential office said on Wednesday it is unclear what the next steps are in relation to the military exercises.

"For now, there is still a need to find out the exact meaning and intention of President Trump's remarks," the spokesperson said. He added that South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called for an all-member meeting of its National Security Council on Thursday to discuss the issue. 

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

Meanwhile, the US Forces Korea (USFK) said it has not received "updated guidance" relating to the military exercises with South Korea. 

"In coordination with our ROK (South Korean) partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense (DoD) and/or Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM)," USFK told Yonhap news agency.

China said on Wednesday that Trump's announcement shows that Beijing "dual suspension" proposal is practical.

The dual suspension involves North Korea suspending nuclear and missile tests, while South Korea and the US suspend military drills so they can sit down for talks.

The US currently has 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the Korean War that took place from 1950 to 1953, according to Yonhap. 

The US and South Korea have insisted that their joint military drills are strictly defensive. The two Koreas technically remain at war since the Korean War ended only with an armistice.

Source: Agencies/ad/na