President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday highlighted the importance of the South Korea-US alliance, saying the alliance remains firm and serves as the foundation of his drive for peace.
The meeting was attended by South Korean Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo and Gen. Robert Abrams, chief of the US Forces Korea.
Other participants included Gen. Park Han-ki, chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the commanding generals of the country’s Army, Navy and Air Force, and USFK Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach.
During the meeting with top South Korean and US military commanders, Moon said the strong South Korea-US alliance has been the foundation of his administration’s drive for peace and that the alliance is crucial to stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but the entire region.
“On the foundations of the strength of the firm Korea-US alliance and ironclad defense posture, (Seoul has) been able to boldly walk the path of the peace process of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establishing permanent peace,” Moon said, going on to list measures aimed at reducing military tension between the two Koreas.
Highlighting that improving inter-Korean relations has contributed to US-North Korea dialogue, Moon went on to say that momentum for talks remains.
“I think that changes in the Korean Peninsula situation have a big role, along with personal trust between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un, in the fact that momentum for dialogue remains despite the second US-North Korea summit in Hanoi ending without an agreement,” Moon said.
“The firmness of the Korea-US alliance shone in the response to North Korea’s recent launching of projectiles,” Moon said.
Moon was initially quoted as using a word that sounded similar to “ballistic missiles” in a Cheong Wa Dae pool report, but the presidential office later said Moon had meant to use the Korean word for “short-range missiles” rather than ballistic missiles.
On May 9, North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the East Sea from its west coast. While the US has referred to the projectiles as ballistic missiles, Seoul has refrained from using the term, saying that the exact nature of the projectiles needs further analysis.
Moon went on stress that the Korea-US alliance will remain important even after peace is established on the peninsula, in an apparent attempt to ease concerns that his administration is weakening the alliance and that the North’s intentions in engaging Seoul and Washington are to remove US military presence here.
“Even if peace is established on the Korean Peninsula through the strength of the Korea-US alliance, the role of the alliance will remain important for peace and stability of the Northeast Asian region,” Moon said.
“In that regard, Korea-US alliance is not a temporary alliance but a permanent alliance that must continue to develop.”