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(LEAD) S. Korea may consult with U.S. about scaling back joint exercises if N.K. suspends nuclear activities: adviser

All News 03:44 June 17, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with new elements; CHANGES headline)
By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, June 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea may consult with the United States about scaling back joint military exercises and deployment of American strategic weapons if North Korea suspends nuclear and missile activities, an adviser to President Moon Jae-in said Friday.

Moon Chung-in, a foreign affairs scholar and special presidential adviser, made the remark during a Wilson Center seminar in Washington, saying President Moon has proposed the idea.

"He proposed two things. One, if North Korea suspends its nuclear and missile activities, then we may consult with the United States to (on) scaling down ROK-US joint exercises and training. I think what he has in mind is we may scale down deployment of American strategic weapons over the Korean Peninsula," the adviser said.

"Another one is linking North Korea's denuclearization to creation of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula," he said.

The adviser also said that the environmental assessment that South Korea plans to conduct over the U.S. THAAD missile defense system could take one year because the study should take into consideration the deployment's impact over four seasons.

Adviser Moon, an honorary professor at Seoul's Yonsei University, arrived in Washington earlier this week on a mission to improve understanding among American opinion leaders of the new government's foreign affairs and inter-Korean policy ahead of the summit between the two countries.

North Korea is expected be one of the top issues for Moon's June 29-30 meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump, with a focus on how to reconcile Trump's policy of "maximum pressure" on the North with Moon's hopes to foster peace through exchanges and cooperation with the isolated neighbor.

During the seminar, the adviser said that President Moon pursues "incremental, comprehensive and fundamental" denuclearization with North Korea, beginning with a freeze on its nuclear and missile programs and a verifiable dismantlement of its nuclear facilities and materials.

The South seeks a peaceful coexistence or "de-facto unification" with the North through trust-building and exchanges and cooperation and won't seek to absorb the North, the adviser said. The new government will also not tolerate the North's provocations, he said.

The Moon administration also hopes to further strengthen the alliance with the U.S. and take back the wartime operational control of the country's forces from the U.S. in order to reduce its dependence on the U.S. for its security and to enhance its defense capabilities, the adviser said.

Moon Chung-in, special presidential adviser for unification, foreign and security affairs. (Yonhap)

jschang@yna.co.kr
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