South Korea’s Moon Jae-in: Joint drills should be ‘reviewed’

June 14 (UPI) — Annual joint exercises between the United States and South Korea should be “reviewed,” if they coincide with dialogue with North Korea, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday.

Moon, who met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday, then held a general meeting of his national security council, praised President Donald Trump for holding the summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un this week, Yonhap reported.

“Once again I pay tribute to President Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un for their bold courage and resolve for making a tough choice,” Moon said. “I hold in the highest regard the leaders of the United States and North Korea after 70 years of hostilities, to meet and agree to establish a permanent peace regime and to agree on the complete denuclearization of North Korea.”

Moon also said in the spirit of the Panmunjom Declaration signed with the North on April 27, there is a need to “carefully review” the joint exercises.

“If North Korea truly carries out denuclearization measures, sincere dialogue continues and hostilities with the United States and South Korea are resolved, in the spirit of mutual trust of the Panmunjom Declaration, there is a need for flexible change on military pressure and carefully review the U.S.-South Korea joint training,” he said.

Moon’s remarks come after Trump described the exercises as “very provocative” war games that are “tremendously expensive.”

“We save a fortune by not doing war games, as long as we are negotiating in good faith — which both sides are!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

The South Korean president quickly ruled out the possibility the alliance with the United States is changing.

“We must maintain our unshaken defense posture, based on the alliance,” Moon said.

In Seoul on Thursday, Pompeo told South Korean reporters the goal is to complete major denuclearization measures by 2020. U.N. sanctions will remain until there is evidence North Korea has completely denuclearized, The Korea Times reported Thursday.

Pompeo did not address North Korea’s human rights record in his remarks.

Local paper Munhwa Ilbo reported lack of momentum in Seoul on human rights may be responsible for the closure of a government-led North Korea Human Rights Foundation, more than two years after a North Korean human rights bill was signed into law.