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China's remarks on S. Korea-U.S. military exercise at ARF 'unusual': official

All News 16:57 August 09, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 9 (Yonhap) -- China's expression of objections to joint military exercises between South Korea and the United Sates is "unusual" because most countries are fully aware that the drills are purely defensive and pose no threats to any specific country, a foreign ministry official said Monday.

The official was reacting to remarks that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made during last week's ASEAN Regional Forum that the upcoming exercise between South Korea and the U.S. is not "constructive." Wang also called for Washington to avoid any action that would cause tension with the North.

"We believe that most of the international community fully understands that the South Korea-U.S. combined exercises are an annually-held and defensive exercise and therefore, it does not pose a threat to any particular country, including North Korea," the official said.

"Nevertheless, we also fully recognize it is unusual for China to make a mention of it at the ARF conference," he said. "We're analyzing the background and intentions."

South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, who delivered his remarks at the ARF session after Wang, did not make any particular comments about what the Chinese diplomat had said, given the circumstance that the meeting took place online, the official added.

An Kwang-il, the North's ambassador to Indonesia who attended the conference, reportedly did not make any remarks about the exercise either, only saying that his country hopes for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

Whether and how to conduct the drill set for next week has drawn keen attention after Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned against staging it, saying the drill will cloud the future of inter-Korean relations.

Despite the warning, South Korea has decided to conduct the exercise in a scaled-back manner, sources said.

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong (top) takes part in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) held virtually on Aug. 6, 2021, in this photo provided by his office the next day. The screen below shows North Korean Ambassador to Indonesia An Kwang-il delivering his remarks during the multilateral session, known as the rare regional security forum that involves Pyongyang. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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