S. Korea, US could scale back joint drills – Pentagon chief
US military exercises with South Korea could be scaled back to aid diplomacy with the nuclear-armed North, Defense Secretary Mark Esper has signaled. The statement came after Pyongyang said it was running out of patience, AFP said.
The North has long protested joint military drills, which it condemns as preparations for an invasion, and has set Washington an end-of-year deadline to come up with a new offer in deadlocked negotiations on its weapons programs.
The US and South Korea last year cancelled several joint drills in the wake of the Singapore summit between President Donald Trump and the North’s leader Kim Jong-un. However, the allies are due to carry out a combined air exercise next month.
“We will adjust our exercise posture either more or less, depending on what diplomacy may require,” Esper told reporters on board his plane to Seoul, where he starts an Asian tour on Thursday.