South Korea, US move on with holding postponed drill
SEOUL – Reuters
The United States and South Korea had agreed to push back the regular joint military drill until after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics being hosted in South Korea, which end on Feb. 25.
“I’m aware negotiations are moving toward a direction where the drills will be held,” Cho Myong-gyon said in parliament, replying to lawmakers’ questions about the exercise. He gave no further details on the timing of the drills.
The South Korean and U.S. militaries usually hold military exercises called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle in March and April, which can involve as many as 17,000 U.S. troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans.
North Korea denounces the drills as preparations to invade it, and it has at times conducted missile tests or taken other aggressive action in response.
Pyongyang this month warned it would not sit idle if the United States goes ahead with the military exercises with South Korea, delayed with the aim of ensuring a peaceful Winter Olympics.
Since the decision to delay the drill, North Korea agreed to hold the first official talks with South Korea in more than two years, amid a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
During those talks North Korea agreed to send its athletes to the Games, along with a cheering squad and orchestra.
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 Feb. 20 reported a North Korean official as saying might be possible.
North Korea may also make the North’s Masikryong ski resort available for the Games, said Chang Ung, the North’s representative on the International Olympic Committee.