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S. Korea, U.S. likely to announce suspension of combined military drills this week: source

All Headlines 13:46 June 17, 2018

SEOUL, June 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States are expected to announce their decision to suspend large-scale combined military exercises this week amid dialogue with North Korea, a government source here said Sunday.

In the announcement, the allies are likely to include a "snapback" clause, the source said, hinting that the exercises would resume should the communist regime fail to deliver on its denuclearization commitment.

After his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump said that he will stop "provocative, inappropriate and expensive" war exercises with the South, which Pyongyang has decried as an invasion rehearsal.

"The South Korean and U.S. military authorities have been having close consultations over the combined exercises that U.S. President Donald Trump has said he will stop," a source said on condition of anonymity.

"This week, the South Korean and U.S. defense ministries will jointly announce the results of their discussions," the source added.

The source also noted that Trump's mention of "war games" might involve large-scale annual maneuvers, such as the springtime Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises, and the summertime Ulchi Freedom Guardian.

Trump's plan to stop "war games" with South Korea is stirring up heated debate, with supporters calling it a good-will gesture to facilitate the North's denuclearization and naysayers a blow to the bilateral alliance.

Amid dialogue with the North in 1992, Seoul and Washington canceled their "Team Spirit" exercise, which resumed the following year.

The allies' militaries have long defended their regular exercises as purely "defensive in nature," rejecting the North's persistent claim that the drills are aimed at making a nuclear foray into the North's territory.

The allied exercises are based on a series of joint contingency plans that delineate a series of procedures to handle a wide range of scenarios, such as a full-blown war triggered by attacks or invasion by the North.

At Tuesday's summit, the North Korean leader reaffirmed his commitment to the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula in a joint statement with Trump. But it drew criticism as it lacked specifics such as a timeline or a method for nuclear disarmament.

This image, provided by Yonhap News TV, shows U.S. troops in a military exercise. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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