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(LEAD) Moon says may consider suspending military drills with U.S. if necessary

All Headlines 18:22 June 14, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, additional information, background from 4th para)

SEOUL, June 14 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Thursday said South Korea may consider suspending its joint military drills with the United States to help build trust and ease tensions with North Korea.

"President Moon said if North Korea implements denuclearization measures and sincere dialogue continues between South Korea and the North, the North and the United States, to ease their hostile relations, 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," the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.

Moon's remarks were made in a plenary meeting of the National Security Council, which marked the first of its kind this year.

Moon said his country will carefully consider the possibility of suspending the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises, according to the press release.

He then instructed NSC members, which include the country's foreign and defense ministers, to closely coordinate with the U.S., it said.

U.S. President Donald Trump said his country will stop "war games" with South Korea after his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on Tuesday, calling them "expensive" and "provocative."

Cheong Wa Dae earlier insisted it was not clear what the U.S. leader meant by war games.

Moon's instruction came hours after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid him a courtesy call at the presidential office, offering a detailed account of the Trump-Kim summit and what Trump apparently meant.

Pyongyang has long demanded an end to what it claims to be war rehearsals aimed at a northward invasion.

Seoul and Washington have insisted the military drills are strictly defensive in nature.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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