No talks with US over resuming military drills: Seoul

By Alex Jensen

SEOUL (AA) – There have been no talks with the United States over resuming joint military exercises in South Korea, according to Seoul's presidential office Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump unexpectedly suspended large drills this summer after reaching a broad denuclearization agreement with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un in June.

But after weeks without progress in terms of the North's nukes, American Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Tuesday that they "have no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises".

Pyongyang views the so-called war games as preparations for an invasion.

Even though the allies have maintained they are defensive in nature, Trump's concession was seen as a gesture of good faith.

While Washington can legitimately argue that there was never an agreement to abandon joint drills altogether, Trump even spoke in June of a future pullout of American troops from the peninsula.

Around 30,000 U.S. forces are stationed in South Korea as a legacy of the Korean War.

Regarding future military exercises, Seoul's presidential office spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom was quoted by Yonhap News Agency insisting "it is an issue that should be discussed and decided by South Korea and the U.S. while reviewing the progress in the denuclearization of North Korea".

"As of now, the issue has not been discussed between South Korea and the United States," Kim stated at a press briefing.

Despite the cancellation of this week's planned trip by American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang, South Korean President Moon Jae-in remains on course to visit the North Korean capital for a summit next month.

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