20 June 2017

News Story: Presidential adviser's remarks about scaling back exercises could exacerbate U.S. concerns - expert

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON/SEOUL, June 19 (Yonhap) -- U.S. concerns about President Moon Jae-in's policy could worsen after one of his special advisers suggested a willingness to consider scaling back joint military exercises with the U.S. if North Korea freezes its nuclear and missile programs, experts said Sunday.

Moon Chung-in, a Yonsei University professor serving as special presidential adviser for foreign and security affairs, made the remark during a Wilson Center seminar in Washington on Friday, saying President Moon has proposed the idea as part of an incremental solution to the nuclear standoff.

Reducing deployment of U.S. strategic weapons to the South during the exercises could be one way of scaling down the maneuvers, the adviser said, noting that U.S. strategic assets, such as aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered submarines, began participating in joint exercises only several years ago.

An official from South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul insisted the professor was voicing his own personal views, saying they had not been coordinated with the presidential office, let alone the president.

The Cheong Wa Dae official, speaking to reporters on the condition of anonymity, noted the special adviser had met with a ranking official from the presidential National Security Office prior to his U.S. trip, but said the two had merely exchanged greetings.

Another Cheong Wa Dae official said the presidential office has since contacted the special adviser and sternly warned him of the danger of making such comments even if they were his personal views.

"We sternly spoke of the fact that this may not be helpful to Korea-U.S. relations in the future," the official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

Read the full story at YonhapNews