South Korea to announce plan for joint military exercises before April

Laura Christensen
February 20, 2018

South Korea is set to press ahead with joint military exercises with the United States in a move likely to aggravate North Korea amid a period of inter-Korean detente. Those talks eventually led to North Korea's participation in the Winter Olympics, in Pyeongchang, South Korea - a move widely seen as a diplomatic breakthrough.

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 report, a copy of which was seen by the Financial Times, did not clarify whether South Korea would host the annual Foal Eagle field training exercises, which involve soldiers on the ground and are particularly despised by the North.

"It is a provocative act of chilling the active efforts of [North Korea] and enthusiasm of the worldwide community to defuse tension and create a peaceful environment", the Korean Central News Agency, a state-run mouthpiece, said.

Regarding concerns there could be cracks in the South Korea-U.S. alliance due to the postponement of the drills, Song said there is not even "a difference of one millimeter between the allies".

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 USA will conduct their spring Key Resolve manoeuvres to defend against the North's missile threat, according to Yonhap News Agency.

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".

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

"Trump and his clique are racketeering to nip peace in the bud that started sprouting on the Korean peninsula", KCNA said in a commentary.

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

Citing a passport index of 199 countries, the US broadcaster said the global standing of a North Korean passport has recently fallen from 85th to 86th place.

Pyongyang says it needs its nuclear weapons to defend itself against the threat of invasion by the US.

However valuable the improvement in North-South ties and the peaceful environment may be, it said, "it is the principled stand and unshakable will of the army and people of the DPRK to counter provocation by prompt counterstrike".

"There is still a risk of conflict between North Korea and the USA, but fortunately the two countries seem to have been feeling the need for dialogue lately", he said during a meeting with Slovenia's president, according to his office.

Other reports by My Hot News

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