The United States and South Korea will begin small-scale military drills on Monday that were delayed during talks with North Korea, days after Pyongyang threatened to restart work on its nuclear program if international pressure does not ease.
The Korean Marine Exchange Program was among the training drills that were indefinitely suspended in June after U.S. President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore and promised to end joint, U.S.-South Korea military exercises often criticized by the North.
|U.S., South Korea set delayed military drills
A spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of Defence confirmed a round of training would begin near the southern city of Pohang, with no media access expected.
About 500 American and South Korean marines will participate in the maneuvers, the Yonhap news agency reported.
In Washington last week, South Korea’s defense minister said Washington and Seoul would make a decision by December on major joint military exercises for 2019. Vigilant Ace, suspended earlier this month, is one of several such exercises that have been halted to encourage dialogue with Pyongyang.
The biggest combat-readiness war game ever staged in and around Japan has gone ahead, however, with nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan joining Japanese destroyers and a Canadian warship in the ocean off Japan — another key player in the effort to pressure North Korea.
North Korea warned on Friday that it could restart development of its nuclear program if the United States does not drop its campaign of “maximum pressure” and sanctions.
“The improvement of relations and sanctions are incompatible,” a foreign ministry official said in a statement released through state-run KCNA news agency. “The U.S. thinks that its oft-repeated ‘sanctions and pressure’ lead to ‘denuclearization.’ We cannot help laughing at such a foolish idea.”
North Korea has not tested a ballistic missile or nuclear weapon for nearly a year, and has said it has shuttered its main nuclear test site with plans to dismantle several more facilities.Reuters