The Korea Herald


NK high-level delegation reiterates position against S. Korea-US military drills

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : March 1, 2018 - 15:59

    • Link copied

A high-level North Korean Olympic delegation reiterated Pyongyang’s position against the resumption of annual South Korea-US joint military drills during its recent visit to South Korea, Seoul’s Unification Minister was quoted Thursday as saying. 

A North Korean high-level delegation led by Kim Yong-chol, the head of the United Front Department. (Yonhap) A North Korean high-level delegation led by Kim Yong-chol, the head of the United Front Department. (Yonhap)

Asked whether the North Korean delegation expressed any concerns about the exercises, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said the North expressed its “existing basic position” on the issue, during a closed-door briefing with members of the ruling Democratic Party.

Cho briefed the Democratic Party members on meetings with the North Korean delegation led by Kim Yong-chol. The delegation met with President Moon Jae-in and had breakfast with Cho, before wrapping-up its three-day trip here.

North Korea has long condemned the annual South-US military drills as a dress rehearsal for invasion, while the allies have continued to highlight the defensive nature of the exercises.

The allies have agreed to delay the annual drills, which were initially scheduled to coincide with the Winter Olympics, as part of an effort to maintain an Olympic detente. Pyongyang has often used the exercises as an excuse to conduct military provocations.

Although the North may be hoping for the exercises to be scrapped, the United States is adamant about resuming the drills soon.

A senior staffer for James Inhofe, a senior member on the US Armed Services Committee, said last month that the idea of further postponement of the drills was raised in Inhofe’s Feb. 23 meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo. But the staffer’s remark was refuted Wednesday by Inhofe’s spokesperson, who said that postponement was not raised, though there were talks on the exercises.

Marc Knapper, charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Seoul told reporters Wednesday that “there is no possibility for a delay,” and stressed the need for the South Korea-US alliance to “take necessary measures through exercises.”

Officials in Seoul said they would announce the date of the exercises after the March 9-18 Winter Paralympics.

During Wednesday’s briefing, Cho was also quoted as saying that it appears difficult for US-North Korea talks to open soon, as there are many variables that have to be resolved.

Although both the US and North Korea have expressed willingness to talk on several occasions, the reclusive regime refuses to halt its nuclear weapons program, while the US has set denuclearization as a precondition for dialogue.

By Jung Min-kyung (