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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S. considering scaling back military exercises due to coronavirus

Defense 08:53 February 25, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with details; ADDS photo)
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States are considering scaling back combined military exercises due to concerns over the new coronavirus, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday.

Esper made the remark after talks with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo at the Pentagon, likely referring to the computer-simulated training exercises planned for March.

South Korea has seen a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent days, with more than 800 confirmed cases and eight deaths as of Monday.

"General Abrams and General Park are looking at scaling back the command post training due to concerns about the coronavirus," Esper said at a joint press conference with Jeong, referring to U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams and South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Park Han-ki.

Jeong said the two generals are looking into the "serious" situation caused by the coronavirus but stopped short of confirming Esper's remarks.

The allies will decide how to conduct the exercises after completing a joint assessment, he said.

This AP photo shows South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo (R) and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper at the Pentagon in Washington on Feb. 24, 2020. (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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