South Korea military drills not conducive towards easing tensions: China
21 August, 2017, 20:44 | Author: Dustin Murphy
In a press briefing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: "As we all see, the present situation on the Korea peninsula is highly complicated, sensitive and pretty fragile".
Tensions cooled slightly last week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un saying he would watch the "Yankees" for a time before deciding whether to proceed with a plan to fire missiles towards the USA territory of Guam.
"They agreed on the need to improve the Korea-Japan relationship into a future-oriented relationship despite many difficulties, such as history issues, and that they must closely work together to jointly deal with North Korea's nuclear and missile threats", Park said.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency this week called them "reckless saber-rattling" and warned that they could spark an accidental war. The North Korean government newspaper also promised that the pariah state can at anytime target the US with a "merciless strike".
"The word that came out previous year was decapitation because we were being threatened by North Korea having done nuclear tests and missiles, so we took those two events very seriously", said the Asan Institute's Choi. The U.S. has always maintained these are purely defensive and to keep the two militaries prepared in case of an unplanned event like a missile strike.
The long-planned drills come at a delicate moment, following weeks of belligerent rhetoric between the USA and North Korea that stoked fears of a catastrophic outcome. He says the drills are held regularly because of repeated provocations by North Korea.
- Where did North Korea get its missile technology? Shortly after last year's exercises, for example, North Korea conducted its second nuclear missile test in nine months.
North and South Korea are technically still at war after the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
In recent times, however, calls have been growing for the US and South Korea to suspend their military drills.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump pledged to answer North Korean aggression with "fire and fury". The number of American troops participating decreased by 7,500 this year, but the overall scale of the drills remained the same, South Korean defense officials said.
"The latter would suggest that we think a low-key approach might encourage (North Korea) restraint and eventually open a door to dialogue", he added in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.
According to the DPRK's official KCNA news agency, Kim had made a decision to delay the missile launch to wait and see what the USA would do next.
When asked to comment on the troop cutback, Hua only said that China has "noted the reduction of the U.S. forces", but reiterated that military exercises would not help to reduce tensions.
Seven other member states of the UN Command - Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Britain - are also taking part.
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