U.S. President Donald Trump's pick for the ambassador to South Korea said Thursday the allies should "pause" major combined military exercises to help test North Korea's seriousness about dialogue.
Retired Adm. Harry Harris, who commanded American forces in the Pacific, cited a change in the security landscape.
"I believe we should give exercises, major exercises, a pause to see if Kim Jong-un is in fact serious about his part of the negotiations," he said in his confirming hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Today, following the summit, we are in a dramatically different place."
He was referring to summit talks between Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore earlier this week, in which they agreed to reshape the Pyongyang-Washington relations through "complete" denuclearization and a peace regime.
After the summit, Trump made a surprise announcement that he will suspend "war games" held regularly by U.S. and South Korean troops, saying they are costly and provocative.
The nominee to become Washington's top envoy in Seoul, however, said the allies may continue some "regular readiness" drills.
South Korean officials responded cautiously to Trump's proposal.
Speaking at a National Security Council meeting in Seoul on Thursday, President Moon Jae-in said his government is open to a prudent review of whether suspending military exercises with the U.S., a key to the allies' combined defense posture, is necessary in light of peace efforts.
While Trump did not mention the names of the drills to be affected, many expect the Foal Eagle and the Key Resolve spring training exercises and the summertime Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) to be on the list. (yonhap)
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