Wednesday, December 11, 2019 | ePaper

US, S Korea postpone joint exercise criticized by N Korea

  • Print


U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, (right) and South Korea Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo attend a press conference in Bangkok on Sunday.

AP, Bangkok :
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday the United States and South Korea have indefinitely postponed a joint military exercise in an "act of goodwill" toward North Korea.
The move comes even as Japan's defense minister, whose country feels threatened by repeated North Korean missile launches, told Esper "no one could be optimistic about" changing the North's behavior.
The statement by Japan's defense chief, Taro Kono, was a stark illustration of the difficulties facing the U.S. and its international allies and partners as they struggle to get North Korea back to negotiations to eliminate its nuclear weapons and missiles. Talks launched by President Donald Trump in 2018 have stalled with no resumption in sight.
Although the U.S. military for years as called its joint military exercises with South Korea an important means of keeping troops and commanders ready for combat on short notice, Trump has called them a waste of money and a provocation to the North.
Esper announced the postponement of the military exercise at a joint news conference with his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyeong-doo. They were in Bangkok to attend an Asia defense ministers' conference.
Esper insisted the postponement was not a concession to North Korea but rather an attempt to "keep the door open" to diplomacy to eliminate North Korea's nuclear weapons.
"I see this as a good-faith effort by the United States and the Republic of Korea to enable peace, to shape ... to facilitate a political agreement - a deal, if you will - that leads to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," Esper told reporters.
North Korea hardly seemed ready to reciprocate. Shortly after Esper and Jeong spoke, the North Korean foreign ministry issued a written statement of defiance. It said it has no plans to negotiate over its nuclear programs, even if talks were to resume, unless the U.S. offers to first discuss the withdrawal of its "hostile" policies against Pyongyang.
North Korea's statement also criticized Washington's support of a recent United Nations resolution condemning the North's widespread human rights violations, claiming that the resolution shows continued U.S. intent to isolate the North and destroy its political system.
The North also has harshly criticized U.S.-South Korean military drills as provocative and as preparations for an invasion.
Kono, the Japanese defense minister, met with Esper and Jeong after they made their announcement. In remarks with reporters and photographers present, Kono said it was important that the three nations consult closely "under the current situation where no one could be optimistic about North Korea."
He added that the North Koreans have launched "more than 20 missiles this year including new types of missiles as well as a submarine-launched ballistic missile" in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Kono called North Korea "a serious threat to peace and stability" in Japan and across the region.
Esper told reporters he did not consider the postponement a concession to North Korea, although it follows earlier cutbacks in the scale and prominence of U.S.-South Korean exercises.
"We have made this decision as an act of goodwill to contribute to an environment conducive to diplomacy and the advancement of peace," Esper said.
As recently as Friday, when Esper was in Seoul to consult with South Korean officials, there was no word on postponing the military air exercise, which had been called Vigilant Ace.

More News For this Category

US army preparing biggest European deployment in 25 years

US army preparing biggest European deployment in 25 years

AFP, Washington:The US Army is planning its biggest deployment of troops to Europe in 25 years, with 20,000 troops slated to take part in a massive force projection exercise at

Climate change tops list of global worries for young people: AI

Madrid (Thomson Reuters Foundation) :Four out of 10 young people view climate change as one of the most important issues facing the world, an Amnesty International survey on the state

Activists hold placards as they attend a protest against climate change as the COP25 climate summit held in Madrid, Spain.

Activists hold placards as they attend a protest against climate change as the COP25 climate summit held in Madrid, Spain.

Nobel laureates call for accountability of Suu Kyi

Nobel laureates call for accountability of Suu Kyi

Anadolu News Agency  :Myanmar's state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and country's army commanders must be held criminally accountable for crimes committed against Rohingya Muslims, seven Nobel peace laureates said

A Black Swan for Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi

The Irrawaddy  :Myanmar's de facto leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi-once internationally feted as a human rights champion-arrived with her delegation in The Hague, Netherlands on Sunday. This time, her

Australia braces for bushfires as strong winds create ‘severe’ conditions

Australia braces for bushfires as strong winds create ‘severe’ conditions

AFP, GosfordAustralians braced for deadly bushfires to spread and intensify Tuesday, as strong winds and high temperatures created "severe" fire conditions.With Sydney and several other cities again cloaked in thick

News In Brief

6 killed after gun rampage at Czech hospitalAFP, OstravaA gunman opened fire Tuesday in a hospital in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, killing six people, police said. "There are

At London temple, Boris Johnson pledges support to PM Modi's new India

At London temple, Boris Johnson pledges support to PM Modi's new India

PTI, London :British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made a pledge to partner with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his mission to build a new India, as he and his

Iran ready for more prisoner swaps with US, not negotiations

Iran ready for more prisoner swaps with US, not negotiations

AP, Tehran :Iran is ready for more prisoner swaps with the United States, the Cabinet spokesman said Monday even as he reiterated the Iranian leadership's stance that there will be

Saudi Arabia ends gender-segregated entrances for restaurants

Saudi Arabia ends gender-segregated entrances for restaurants

Reuters, Riyadh :Restaurants in Saudi Arabia will no longer need to maintain entrances segregated by sex, the authorities said on Sunday, further eroding some of the world's strictest social rules