South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Thursday that joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, which have been conducted twice a year, are an issue to be determined through consultations between military authorities of the two countries.
Kang made the remarks during a televised joint press conference in Seoul after holding a trilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono.
Her comment came after U.S. President Donald Trump told a press conference after holding a historic summit with top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un in Singapore Tuesday that he will halt the U.S. war games with South Korea.
Trump said it would be inappropriate to have such "provocative" war games as he and the DPRK leader reached a comprehensive deal.
Kim and Trump signed a joint statement after the first DPRK-U.S. summit, agreeing to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in return for security assurances. The leaders also agreed to set up new bilateral ties, ending hostile relations that had lasted for decades.
Kang said she understood what President Trump said as his willingness to strengthen the dialogue momentum with the DPRK that has just emerged following the DPRK-U.S. summit and the inter-Korean summits.
The South Korean diplomat said the annual South Korea-U.S. military drills are a matter between the two allies and an issue to be decided through consultations between the military authorities.
The Blue House of South Korea said Wednesday that it needs to get clarity about what exact meaning and intention Trump's comment about the war games had at the current stage.
However, it noted that while Pyongyang and Washington proceed with an earnest dialogue on denuclearizing the peninsula and establishing bilateral relations, it needs to come up with various ways to further forward such dialogue more smoothly.
It indicated the possible suspension of the upcoming South Korea-U.S. joint military drills if denuclearization talks go smoothly.
The joint annual South Korea-U.S. military exercises have been carried out twice in spring and fall each. This year's springtime war games were conducted in April as it was delayed for the South Korea-hosted Winter Olympics. The autumn military drills are scheduled for August this year.