The defense chiefs of South Korea and the United States have had in-depth" discussions over the allies' combined military exercises, following US President Donald Trump's recent remarks that he will stop "provocative war games," Seoul's defense ministry said Friday.
Defense Minister Song Young-moo and his US counterpart James Mattis held 30-minute telephone talks from 7:30 p.m. (Korea time) on Thursday to exchange views over the exercises, including the summertime Ulchi Freedom Guardian.
After his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on Tuesday, Trump said the US will stop "war games" with the South, calling them "expensive, provocative and inappropriate."
|South Korea`s Defense Minister Song Young-moo holds phone talks with US Secretary of State James Mattis on Aug. 16, 2017, in this photo, provided by his ministry. (Yonhap)|
"The two ministers agreed to continuously strengthen efforts to provide defense support, based on the solid South Korea-US alliance, for the faithful and expeditious implementation of the agreement from the North Korea-US summit," the ministry said in a press release.
"For this, the ministers exchanged views in detail over the entirety of the South Korea-US combined training exercises," it added.
The ministry said that the defense chiefs decided to discuss the issue in face-to-face talks "as soon as possible."
During the talks, Song noted the need for "flexible change" as to military pressure on the North in line with the April 27 inter-Korean summit declaration, which called for confidence-building measures, should talks with the North proceed well.
Song also reiterated President Moon Jae-in's statement that he will look at the exercise issue with "prudence."
Amid the growing mood for reconciliation, the possibility has emerged that Seoul and Washington could consider scaling back the regular annual drills, including the UFG.
But conservatives in the South argued that any change to the exercises could weaken the security alliance, the centerpiece of deterrence against the North's possible aggression. (Yonhap)