Korea to decide on new dates for Olympics-delayed joint drills

Lucy Bush
February 20, 2018

South Korea and the U.S. will hold joint military exercises after the Winter Olympic Games, South Korea's defense ministry said in a report.

Pyongyang had not asked Seoul to suspend the joint military drills in exchange for the country's participation in the PyeongChang Olympics, the defense minister said, insisting that the postponement would not affect the U.S. -ROK alliance.

Asked when the two countries will hold the postponed drill, Song Young-moo told parliament that he and his American counterpart Jim Mattis would make an announcement between March 18 and the start of April.

The US reluctantly agreed to postpone the annual exercises, which usually begin at the end of February. "The date for the postponed exercises-Key Resolve and Foal Eagle-will be announced after the Paralympics", he said.

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Song added inter-Korean talks had not come about as a direct result of the postponed drill.

Pyongyang has warned it would not sit idle if the US and South Korea push ahead with the postponed military exercises. Tensions with North Korea reached a peak a year ago as the country repeatedly conducted provocative ballistic missile tests, and detonated their sixth and largest nuclear weapon to date.

With the start date for the large-scale exercises yet to be confirmed, Seoul's Defense Ministry reported to lawmakers Tuesday that South Korea and the US will conduct their spring Key Resolve manoeuvres to defend against the North's missile threat, according to Yonhap News Agency.

After a high-level delegation from the North attended the opening ceremony, Mr Kim invited Moon Jae-in, South Korea's leader, to Pyongyang for what would be the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade. "I'm aware negotiations are moving toward a direction where the drills will be held", Cho said in a separate parliamentary session yesterday, without elaborating.

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"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", the Korean Central News Agency, a state-run mouthpiece, said.

The North's response continued: "It is a provocative act of chilling the active efforts of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and enthusiasm of the worldwide community to defuse tension and create a peaceful environment".

"North Korea will continue to pursue its united front tactics on the peninsula, "decoupling" of the US from the ROK, acceptance as a 'normal nuclear state, ' and sanctions relief", he added, using the acronym for South Korea's formal name.

South Korean unification minister on Tuesday also said that Washington and Seoul have discussed the resumption of joint military drills.

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