AIR FORCE ONE, June 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday said reducing his country's joint military exercises with the United States was not an option for now, though it may be considered following what he called irreversible and verifiable steps by North Korea to denuclearize.
"First of all, the official position we have now is that North Korea's nuclear freeze and reduction of joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States cannot be linked," Moon said.
"That has been the official position of South Korea and the United States, and that position has not changed," he added, while aboard Air Force One on his way to Washington for a summit with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump.
Moon's remarks came after his special security adviser, Moon Chung-in, claimed Seoul and Washington may consider scaling back their joint military drills staged in South Korea should the North freeze its nuclear activities.
The Yonsei University professor later said he was speaking within his personal capacity and not a special adviser to the president.
Still, his remarks sparked concerns that Seoul's new liberal government under the new president may be considering making such an offer to Pyongyang despite the North's continued nuclear and missile provocations.
"I do believe the notion that we must not reward bad behavior is a principle we must uphold," the new South Korean president told reporters.
North Korea has staged five missile tests since Moon came into office on May 10.
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