June 20, 2017 10:50
Cheong Wa Dae on Monday cautioned President Moon Jae-in's security adviser over controversial comments in Washington that could damage relations with the U.S.
A high-ranking official at the presidential office said Moon Chung-in, who is still in the U.S., has been told "that his remarks will do little to contribute to Seoul-Washington relation in the future."
The adviser told correspondents in Washington last Friday that Seoul could scale down joint military exercises with the U.S. if North Korea halts its nuclear weapons and missile program, questioned the need to dispatch American super-carriers and strategic bombers, and downplayed the importance of the THAAD anti-missile battery being stationed here.
The warning came from National Security Council chief Chung Eui-yong. Cheong Wa Dae scrambled to address the comments with less than 10 days remaining before President Moon meets his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in Washington.
The official told reporters Moon Chung-in "met with Chung before heading to the U.S. and discussed many of his ideas. Chung said he heard them and thought they were his personal opinions."
He added they were "just one of a variety of options being discussed here to resolve the nuclear and missile threat from North Korea. Any decision needs to be made in close consultation between Seoul and Washington."
But when asked if the adviser's comments differ from the president's views, the official said, "We can't draw a clear line. The point is not which parts are correct and which parts are wrong. The comments should be seen as one of many options."
One government source said, "I believe Moon Chung-in told Cheong Wa Dae before he left for the U.S. that he will say what needs to be said and play the 'bad cop.'"
The adviser apparently made it clear when he was appointed that he intends to use his unofficial position to state uncomfortable truths and "create more options in future negotiations."
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