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Any decision on U.S.-S. Korea joint military drill will be result of coordination: Pentagon

All News 06:17 August 04, 2021

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) -- Any decisions on military exercises between South Korea and the United States will be made jointly by the allies, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday, reiterating that their alliance remains strong.

John Kirby, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense, also highlighted the U.S. commitment to the alliance and the joint security of the Korean Peninsula.

"We have security commitments on the peninsula, a treaty that requires us to be ready to help defend the Korean Peninsula against threats. That hasn't changed. It's ironclad," the spokesman said in a press briefing.

His remarks come amid speculation that the allies may scale down, if not postpone, their scheduled joint military exercise, set to be held this month, to help foster inter-Korean dialogue.

North Korea reopened its direct communication channels with South Korea last week, more than 13 months after it unilaterally severed them in June 2020.

The North said the reopening of the communication lines was the result of an agreement between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and its leader, Kim Jong-un, to improve their countries' relations.

Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong, however, has warned the latest thaw in the inter-Korean relations may be short-lived should the South Korea go ahead with its regular joint military exercise with the United States.

Pyongyang often denounces the joint military drills as rehearsals for invasion. Seoul maintains the drills are completely defensive in nature, and in the past has offered to invite North Korean officials as observers.

The Pentagon spokesman said Seoul has not made any request to consider suspending the upcoming joint military drill.

"That hasn't happened," he said when asked what the U.S. intended to do if asked by South Korea to suspend the upcoming drill.

While refusing to answer hypothetical questions, Kirby insisted any decisions will be made through close coordination, apparently implying that they will not lead to any U.S. reaction.

"Everything we do from a military perspective is done in close coordination with our South Korean allies. We're together as we make these decisions," he said.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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