June 19, 2018

S. Korea and United States to continue joint military drills

20 February 2018, 08:11 | Simon Arnold

S. Korea and United States to continue joint military drills

S. Korea and United States to continue joint military drills

The U.S. and South Korea will announce plans for a joint military exercise after the Winter Olympics, according to the latter's defense minister. North Korea views the exercises as a rehearsal for invasion, and has long used them as a pretext for its own provocations.

South Korea and the United States will make a joint statement on the matter after March 18, when the winter paraolympic games are over.

"The [President Donald] Trump group's racket for resuming the war exercises is a wild act of ruthlessly trampling even a small sprout of peace that has been now seen on the Korean peninsula, and it is a provocative act of chilling the active efforts of [North Korea] and enthusiasm of the global community to defuse tension and create a peaceful environment", read a release from North Korea's state-media wing the Korean Central News Agency.

"The exercise was postponed according to the spirit of the Olympics", Song said.

The two militaries typically hold two operations in March and April called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, according to Reuters.

General Vincent K. Brooks, who commands the 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea, last week told the US House Armed Services Committee that joint drills were "essential" to "deter North Korean aggression".

Pyongyang, which has been slapped with a series of tough United Nations and unilateral sanctions, has seen its ties with Seoul thaw amid a "charm offensive" that saw North Korean leader Kim Jong Un dispatch his younger sister to the games to deliver an offer to host a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Pyongyang is likely to demand a complete halt of the joint exercises in cross-border military talks, which the two Koreas agreed to hold during their high-level talks last month.

Both the South and North appear to be tip-toeing around these issues during the period of the Pyeongchang Olympics, he said.

However, it remains to be seen whether Moon will accept the proposal as he stressed last weekend the North should also engage in dialogue with the US - a prospect that could become less likely when allied military drills resume.

The peninsula teetered on the edge of conflict a year ago as Donald Trump, US president, faced off with Kim Jong-un, North Korea's supreme leader, over the regime's testing of long-range ballistic missiles.

"It is a provocative act of chilling the active efforts of the DPRK and enthusiasm of the global community to defuse tension and create a peaceful environment".

The Olympics have since seen a charm offensive by Pyongyang, which dispatched athletes, cheerleaders and its leader's sister Kim Yo Jong to attend the Games.

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