North Korea warns against USA military drills on peninsula after Olympics
- Author: Ryan Wade Feb 20, 2018,
Feb 20, 2018, 20:12
Washington previously agreed to a request from Seoul to delay the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises - which always infuriate Pyongyang - until after the Pyeongchang Olympics and Paralympics in the South, to try to avoid tensions on the divided peninsula.
The "hard-won atmosphere for reconciliation and cooperation between the north and the south was spoilt in a moment" when joint military drills were held in the past, the commentary added.
The South Korean and US militaries usually hold military exercises called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle in March and April, which can involve as many as 17,000 USA troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans.
"The South Korean and the US government together announced that the joint exercises have been postponed based on Olympic spirit", Song said at a meeting of the National Assembly's National Defense Committee.
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The report, however, did not mention the Foal Eagle drills, which are a series of joint and combined ground, air, naval and special operations field exercises, or the exact schedule for the Key Resolve and Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, according to Yonhap. 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.
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".
South Korea has also been floating the idea of co-hosting the 2021 Asian Winter Games with North Korea, which the South's Yonhap news agency on February 20 reported a North Korean official as saying might be possible.
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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In a separate KCNA commentary, the North assailed the USA and President Donald Trump for hinting at the possibility of military action to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.
"It is a provocative act of chilling the active efforts of the DPRK and enthusiasm of the worldwide community to defuse tension and create a peaceful environment".
"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.
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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