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(LEAD) Moon's top security adviser departs for U.S. to discuss summit, N.K. threats

All News 13:39 June 01, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with new info throughout; TRIMS; EDITS)

SEOUL, June 1 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in's top security adviser embarked on a two-day trip to the United States on Thursday for talks with top Washington officials over Moon's upcoming summit with President Donald Trump, North Korean threats and other alliance issues.

Chung Eui-yong, the National Security Office chief, will meet his U.S counterpart H.R. McMaster and other officials to discuss the agenda for the summit slated for later this month and cooperation in reining in a provocative Pyongyang.

"The most important (purpose of my trip) is to meet with the White House security adviser to finalize the schedule and agenda for the summit," Chung told reporters before departing for the U.S.

Chung Eui-yong, the National Security Office chief, speaks to the press before departing for the United States at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on June 1, 2017. (Yonhap)

"As it has not been long since both governments were launched, it is of great importance for the leaders to build close friendship and trust," he added.

How to further "expand and develop" the bilateral alliance will be high on the agenda, while Moon and Trump are also expected to exchange their views on the North's nuclear conundrum, Chung said.

"The U.S.' approach for the complete dismantlement of the North's nuclear program is maximum pressure and engagement, while our approach is to have pressure and dialogue to run in parallel. ... Thus, (we don't see) any big difference," he said.

"The ultimate goal is to secure a nuclear-free peninsula through the complete elimination of the North's nukes," he added.

Observers said that during his stay in Washington, Chung and U.S. officials could also touch on a set of pending issues surrounding the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery to the peninsula and the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement.

Chung's trip came against the backdrop of growing concerns that the THAAD issue could trigger friction in the bilateral alliance.

On Tuesday, Moon expressed his frustration and ordered a probe into why the delivery of four THAAD launchers -- in addition to the two launchers already deployed -- was not disclosed.

During the press meeting at the airport, Chung said Seoul explained the purpose of the probe to the U.S. authorities Wednesday.

"We explained that (the probe) was about a domestic procedure, and that it will not ever affect the South Korea-U.S. alliance," he said.

"Lee Sang-chul, the vice security office chief, also delivered the same message to U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Vincent K. Brooks."

The Moon administration has sought to gain "democratic and procedural legitimacy" for the THAAD deployment, claiming that the former government had failed to take due steps, such as building public consensus over the security policy decision.


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