North Korea warns against U.S. military drills on peninsula after Olympics
20:14, Feb 20, 2018
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A DATE for the start of delayed United States and South Korean military drills will be announced soon after the Paralympics end next month, Seoul's Defence Minister said today. 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.
The United States' top military official in South Korea has affirmed the two allied countries will continue conducting joint military exercises.
"As you know, the USA and ROK agreed to deconflict the timing of the spring exercises - Key Resolve and Foal Eagle - in order to provide the best possible conditions for a successful Olympics and Paralympics", a USFK spokesperson who asked to remain anonymous told NK News.
The South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Tuesday, however, declined to confirm when Seoul and Washington would stage the drills, dates for which are typically announced in February.
South Korea's Defense Minister Song Young-moo told the country's parliament Tuesday that he and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis would announce their plans after the Paralympics end March 18 and before April.
The two countries, which regularly conduct joint military exercises, made a decision to postpone them during the Olympics - before talks between North and South Korea began.
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".
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".
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 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.
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.
"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.
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