US, SKorea to go ahead with Olympic-delayed drills

Feb 20, 2018, 20:14
US, SKorea to go ahead with Olympic-delayed drills

Artillery being fired during a joint US-South Korea military exercise a year ago.

"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 worldwide community to defuse tension and create a peaceful environment", read a release from North Korea's state-media wing the Korean Central News Agency.

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.

In a report submitted to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, U.S. Forces Korea Commander Vincent Brooks said the United States will execute two major theater-level command post exercises and one theater-level field training exercise each year.

The defence ministry report did not specify when Key Resolve would be held this year but said the drills would focus on developing its 4D strategy to detect, disrupt and destroy and defend against North Korean missiles.

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South Korean defense chief Song Young-moo said that he would join U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to announce the drills' schedule sometime between the conclusion of the Winter Paralympics on March 18 and the start of April, according to the Yonhap news agency.

The US reluctantly agreed to postpone the annual exercises, which usually begin at the end of February. South Korean media report that the U.S. is preparing to dispatch advanced attack drones capable of attacking North Korean leaders or missile sites during that period.

South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myong-gyon said talks to stage the postponed military drill were moving forward.

Moon said Saturday that it was too early to think about a meeting despite the Olympic-driven rapprochement with its neighbor, but added that "there are high hopes for a North-South summit".

North Korea says the United States is to blame if anything dampens the mood for improving inter-Korean relations, while observers voice concern that cross-border military talks may generate sparks.

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The Olympics have ushered in a welcome period of calm on the divided peninsula after months of saber rattling between Washington and Pyongyang over the North's nuclear weapons program.

"The DPRK is fully ready for both dialogue and war", the commentary said, using the acronym for the North's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"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".

China looks set to be angered by the move in addition to the North, having already expressed concerns about drones as well as South Korea's deployment of a THAAD missile defense battery previous year.

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