Thursday, February 21, 2019 | ePaper

S Korea suspends civilian drills to help talks with N Korea

  • Print


South Korea's Defense Minister Song Young-moo, left, and Interior and Safety Minister Kim Boo Kyum, right, arrive for a briefing at the government complex in Seoul, South Korea on Tuesday.

AP, Seoul :
South Korea has suspended its summertime civil defense drills aimed at preparing against a North Korean attack to keep alive a positive atmosphere for nuclear diplomacy with the North.
Seoul's decision on Tuesday to "temporarily suspend" the nationwide civilian drills had been anticipated since the United States and South Korea halted their annual military exercises following a summit last month between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Streets in South Korean cities froze at the sound of air-raid sirens every year during the Ulchi drills in August with cars stopping on roads, pedestrians moving into buildings and subway stations, and government workers evacuating from their offices.
Kim Boo Kyum, minister of the interior and safety, said the suspension of the civilian drills was a follow-up to the suspension of the military exercises amid recent changes in "South-North relations and other security situations." He said the government and military will work to design a new civil defense program to be launched next year that will be aimed at preparing people for natural disasters and terrorist attacks in addition to military attacks.
"The government will firmly maintain national preparedness for emergency situations," Kim said in a news conference also attended by Defense Minister Song Young-moo. The ministers did not take reporters' questions.
After their summit in Singapore, Trump and North Korean leader Kim issued a vague aspirational statement on the North's denuclearization that didn't describe when and how it would occur. It's now up to a U.S. delegation led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to hammer out details in discussions with senior North Korean officials. The follow-up talks got off to a rocky start, with the North accusing the United States of making unilateral demands, though Pompeo called the talks in Pyongyang last week productive.
The Ulchi civilian drills were launched in 1969, a year after a failed attempt by North Korean commandos to assassinate then-South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee. Since 2008, the civilian drills have coincided with the Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises between South Korea and the United States. Following his summit with Kim, Trump said that the allies would suspend the war games as long as negotiations with the North continue in "good faith."

More News For this Category

News In Brief

Pak Provincial Assembly Speaker arrested AP, Islamabad  Pakistan's anti-corruption body says it has arrested the speaker of a provincial assembly and member of an opposition party headed by former President

Flynn pushed to share nuclear tech with Saudis: Congressional report

AP, Washington :Senior White House officials pushed a project to share nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia despite the objections of ethics and national security officials, according to a

Palestinian President rejects tax money from Israel

Palestinian President rejects tax money from Israel

Reuters, Ramallah, West Bank :The Palestinian Authority (PA) will no longer accept tax revenues collected on its behalf by Israel following its decision to trim the sum over the

Putin promises Russians better living conditions 'within this year'

Putin promises Russians better living conditions 'within this year'

AFP, Moscow  :President Vladimir Putin promised Russians rapid improvements in their living conditions as he delivered his annual state of the nation address Wednesday under pressure from falling approval

Pakistan PM urges talks on Kashmir blast, warns India against attack

Pakistan PM urges talks on Kashmir blast, warns India against attack

Reuters, Islamabad :Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday Pakistan was ready to cooperate with India in its investigation of a deadly bombing in the disputed Kashmir region last

Japan trial to treat spinal cord injuries with stem cells

Japan trial to treat spinal cord injuries with stem cells

AFP, Tokyo :The health ministry approved Monday the world's first clinical test in which artificially derived stem cells will be used to treat patients with spinal cord injuries.A team

IS defends final pocket of dying 'caliphate' in Syria

IS defends final pocket of dying 'caliphate' in Syria

AFP, Baghouz (Syria) :Islamic State group jihadists were defending the last pocket of their "caliphate" in Syria on Monday, as EU foreign ministers meet to discuss the crisis after

Australia says 'state actor' hacked parties, parliament

Australia says 'state actor' hacked parties, parliament

AFP, Sydney :Australia on Monday said a "sophisticated state actor" had hacked the country's main political parties and parliament, just weeks before a closely fought election.Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Russia pioneering return of 'ISIS children'

Russia pioneering return of 'ISIS children'

AFP, Moscow :As the end nears for the IS enclave in Syria and the fate of jihadists' family members becomes a prescient issue, Russia can be seen as a

`Crime may have been committed` by Trump: Ex-FBI official

`Crime may have been committed` by Trump: Ex-FBI official

AP, Washington :Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said in an interview that aired Sunday that a "crime may have been committed" when President Donald Trump fired the head