Seoul hints at possible suspension of joint military drills with US

South Korea hinted at the possibility of suspending the country’s joint military drills with the United States of America, citing a need to assist denuclearization negotiations with North Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported on Wednesday.

“We believe there is a need to consider various ways to further promote dialogue as long as serious discussions are being held between the US and North Korea for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establishment of peace,” Presidential Office said, according to the report.

The remarks came one day after US President Donald Trump has said he will stop what he calls expensive and provocative “war games” with South Korea as long as the North and the US are “negotiating in good faith.” Trump’s remarks came as a surprise to many in the US and South Korea as the exercises are seen as integral to their alliance and their joint deterrence against possible aggression from the North.

Seoul and Washington have long insisted that their joint military drills are strictly defensive. The US currently maintains 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War. The two Koreas technically remain at war as the war ended only with an armistice. The leaders of the divided Koreas agreed to make joints efforts to formally end the war in their two bilateral summits held on April 27 and May 26.

In a press conference following his summit with Kim, the US president said his dialogue with Kim will eventually involve the South Korean president, apparently to formally end the war.

Source: Kuwait News Agency