SEOUL, Feb. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States will announce by the end of March when they will hold annual joint military exercises that have been postponed to avoid coinciding with the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Seoul's defense chief said Tuesday.
Defense Minister Song Young-moo told a parliamentary defense committee meeting that the defense chiefs of the two countries will make an announcement sometime from March 18, when the Winter Paralympic Games are scheduled to close, and before April.
The two countries put off the exercises in an effort to make sure that the Winter Olympics won't be affected by tensions with North Korea. The communist nation has long used such exercises as a pretext for provocations while denouncing those drills as a rehearsal for invasion of the country.
Song said the South and the U.S. postponed the exercises in accordance with the Olympic spirit. Before an announcement is made on when to resume the exercises, the two countries agreed to stick to a stance of neither confirming nor denying dates, he said.
Song said it is not true that North Korea asked for the postponement as a condition for its participation in the PyeongChang Olympics. He also dismissed concerns that the delay could cause a crack in the alliance with the U.S., saying the alliance doesn't have "even 1 millimeter of error."
With regard to inter-Korean military talks, Song said the South is making specific plans about what to discuss during the talks and at what level the meetings should be. He added, however, that such talks should begin with the easiest things to deal with.
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