NATIONAL

Ministry dismisses speculation about possible scaling-back of drills with US

By Yonhap
  • Published : May 21, 2018 - 15:13
  • Updated : May 21, 2018 - 15:13
South Korea's defense ministry on Monday dismissed growing speculation that Seoul and Washington could scale back their regular summertime military exercise to avoid provoking North Korea.

Last week, Pyongyang abruptly suspended high-level inter-Korean talks, taking issue with the ongoing Max Thunder air drills between Seoul and Washington, which it slammed as a "rehearsal for invasion."

"There is no change in our stance regarding the combined exercise that is annual and defensive in nature," Choi Hyun-soo, the ministry's spokeswoman, said during a regular press briefing.

(Yonhap)

"At this point in time, we plan to keep the level of the exercise as it has been."

The spokeswoman was referring to the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise slated to begin in August. Amid the growing mood of peace and the communist state's strong aversion to the allied drills, some observers have raised the possibility of a reduction in its scale.

The public appears split over the drills.

Conservatives here have maintained that combined drills must not be up for negotiations, as they form an integral part of the decades-long Seoul-Washington alliance. But others say that their size and frequency can be readjusted to give impetus to the ongoing peace efforts.(Yonhap)