South Korea: Drill with US to go ahead despite North's warning
South Korea says a joint military exercise with the US will go ahead as planned next month, despite North Korea's warning that the drill could wreck denuclearization talks.
North Korea said on Tuesday US President Donald Trump had reaffirmed in a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month that the joint drills would be halted.
Pyongyang said the planned exercise is “clearly a breach” of the two leaders’ agreement and that proceeding with it would jeopardize nuclear talks with the United States.
“The nature of the exercise is not offensive…and is for strengthening the alliance,” Choi Jong-kun, the secretary for peace planning to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said on Saturday.
Choi said Washington would have consulted with the government in Seoul if Trump had agreed to suspend the war games during his talks with Kim on the North Korean border last month.
"As far as I know, President Trump did not promise the cancellation of this upcoming military exercise," Choi said. "If he had done that...we would have been consulted and organized it and used it very strategically."
Speaking with Reuters, Choi later said the military drills planned for August would largely involve computer simulations and not troops in the field.
There are close to 30,000 US troops stationed in South Korea, and their annual drills with thousands of South Korean soldiers have always infuriated the North.
North Korea has strongly denounced joint military exercises between South Korea and the US, saying they pose an "all-out challenge" to efforts towards peace on the Korean Peninsula.