S. Korea brushes aside China’s proposal to halt joint drills with US

South Korea’s military said Thursday the joint annual exercises with the United States will continue as planned one day after China requested a halt.

On Wednesday, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed that North Korea suspend its nuclear and missile activities in return for a halt in the war drills by Seoul and Washington.

In response, Moon Sang-gyun, spokesman for South Korea’s defense ministry, said in a press briefing, “The joint exercises will continue without a halt. It is a purely defensive annual drill.”

On March 1, South Korean and U.S. troops kicked off a two-month exercise, Foal Eagle, involving ground, air and naval forces. The allies also plan to start a two-week computer-simulated command post exercise, called Key Resolve, on March 13.

The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is scheduled to arrive in Busan around March 15 to participate in the Foal Eagle exercise. The U.S. Air Force’s F-35B stealth fighter will also take part in the ongoing war game to hone its precision ground strike capabilities, military officials said.

The U.S. is expected to deploy other strategic assets, such as the B-1B and B-52 bombers, with the tiltrotor V-22 Osprey to make an appearance, in a show of force against the North, which fired off four ballistic missiles on Monday in its latest provocations. They all flew about 1,000 kilometers before landing in the sea near Japan.

The missiles were analyzed by the military as “improved versions” of short-range Scud-ER missiles with a range of 500-700 km. (Yonhap)

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