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US distances itself from Korea's call to postpone military drills

WASHINGTON -- The United States on Wednesday distanced itself from South Korean President Moon Jae-in's call to postpone the allies' military exercises until after the PyeongChang Olympic Games.

Moon told US broadcaster NBC Tuesday that the two countries could review the timing of the regular drills to reduce tensions during the event, which will be held some 80 kilometers south of the inter-Korean border.

The Winter Games are slated to run from Feb. 9-25, and the Paralympics from March 9-19. They will coincide with the duration of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises, which North Korea condemns as an invasion rehearsal.

"The United States and our allies and partners in the region have long conducted routine exercises to maintain readiness," Lt. Col. Chris Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, told Yonhap. "But it would be inappropriate to discuss plans for future exercises at this time."


The South Korean president said the US is currently reviewing a delay upon his suggestion. Logan did not confirm those remarks.

Moon also said it would depend on North Korea's behavior in the run-up to the Olympics, indicating the exercises would be put on hold only if Pyongyang refrained from further nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

This year the regime staged its sixth and most powerful nuclear detonation as well as three intercontinental ballistic missile launches, bringing it ever closer to hitting anywhere in the US with a nuclear weapon.

Asked to comment on Moon's remarks, a White House National Security Council official said on the condition of anonymity, "The United States regularly conducts exercises with our Republic of Korea ally in order to deter North Korean aggression and to ensure we are able to fight effectively in the event of war."

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that he is "unaware" of plans to change the scheduled drills. (Yonhap)