Halting S.Korea-US drills risks weakening N.Korea deterrence

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Last year, 17,500 American and more than 50,000 South Korean troops participated in the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, although the exercise is mostly focused on computerized simulations rather than live field exercises that use weapons, tanks or aircraft.

The two nations, still technically at war, met under the banner of "practically eliminate the danger of war", as South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to do on April 27 during their historic first summit.

"Following close cooperation, South Korea and the US chose to suspend all planning activities for the UFG, the defensive exercise slated for August", Seoul's Defence Ministry said.

"We are still coordinating additional actions", she said.

"No decisions on subsequent war games have been made", Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said. "One time is not a big thing", said Stephen Tharp, a retired U.S. Army officer with many years of experience focusing on North Korean issues.

"We have President Putin and a common goal: the establishment of peace and the achievement of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula".

"We consider the ongoing denuclearization negotiations with North Korea as crucial, so as long as those negotiations continue, the decision by the governments of South Korea and the United States will be maintained", she said.

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On ease of doing business in India, Park said, "We have about 700 (South Korean) companies in India and they have found opportunities to do business. It is planned to discuss topical issues of the development of Russian-South Korean ties in the political, trade-and-economic and humanitarian spheres", the Kremlin press service said.

President Trump raised concerns over the future of the alliance when he said in Singapore that he would like to withdraw all or some of the over 28,000 troops in South Korea at some point in the future, as both a cost saving measure, and to reduce a perceived overextended USA military presence overseas.

U.S. and South Korean defense ministries said hours earlier that they would suspend the annual joint military exercises slated for August, a most-anticipated move after the DPRK-U.S. summit.

Ulchi Freedom Guardian is a two-week exercise that consists predominantly of computer-simulated defense drills. Other rewards that North Korea wants are an easing of worldwide sanctions, establishment of diplomatic ties with the United States, and a reduction of US troops in South Korea. He also said Obama had warned him that North Korea was "our biggest and most unsafe problem".

Another exercise, Max Thunder, took place in May.

Onodera added that the decision taken by South Korea and the USA to stop their summer drills would not affect the Pacific drills carried out by the United States and Japan outside the Korean Peninsula.

A delegation from the International Canoe Federation is due to travel to the North Korean capital next month and Kim said joint training could take place in Seoul in the middle of next month.

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