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Minister says allies need alternative to joint air exercise

Defense 14:09 October 29, 2018

SEOUL, Oct. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea supports the U.S. decision to suspend their major combined air combat training, seeking alternative ways to bolster the combined defense posture, Seoul's defense chief said Monday.

In a Singapore meeting with Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo earlier this year, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis proposed indefinitely postponing the massive Vigilant ACE drill that was slated for December.

It was aimed at helping move forward denuclearization talks with North Korea and reducing the defense budget.

"(I) sympathize actively" with the U.S. offer, Jeong told lawmakers during a parliamentary audit session in Seoul.

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo speaks to lawmakers during a National Assembly session in Seoul on Oct. 29, 2018. (Yonhap)

The minister, however, pointed out public concerns about a potential impact on national security.

"Even if (the training) is postponed, I will put forward opinions on complementary measures in the Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) to be held in the U.S.," he added without elaborating.

The minister is scheduled to meet Mattis in Washington, D.C. this week for the annual SCM.

The annual Vigilant ACE involves hundreds of aircraft, including advanced fighter jets.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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