May 18 (UPI) -- A top adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in is challenging statements attributed to him in The Atlantic, as he defended the need to maintain a U.S. troop presence on the Korean Peninsula.
Moon Chung-in, the outspoken presidential aide and academic who has previously criticized the state of U.S.-South Korea relations, reportedly said alliances in general are a "very unnatural state of international relations."
"For me, the best thing is to really get rid of alliance," Moon told The Atlantic.
But Moon also said he "strongly" supports the "continued presence of American forces."
On Friday while speaking at Gangwon National University, Moon slammed the article, which some readers had begun to interpret as a statement in favor of U.S. troop withdrawal.
Yonhap reported Moon said it is "wrong to call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Korea," and explained why the alliance between the United States and South Korea is "indispensable."
"In the medium-to-short-term, the U.S.-South Korea alliance is indispensable and we cannot but have U.S. troops stationed in South Korea," Moon said.
The aide also said he was "very disturbed" that others saw him as anti-alliance.
The United States and South Korea recently concluded the third round of meetings on the Special Measures Agreement in Washington.
A South Korean foreign ministry official told local newspaper Korea Economic Daily during the meeting held last week the United States reaffirmed its "strong commitment" to security on the Korean Peninsula, and there were no plans to change the size of U.S. forces in Korea.
South Korea shares the cost of keeping U.S. troops on the peninsula.
Seoul's defense cost contribution is about $885 million.