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The U.S. Department of Defense and the South Korean defense ministry said the annual Freedom Guardian exercise would be suspended, and South Korea also said a separate emergency training drill supervised solely by the South, called the Ulchi exercise, was under review.
It is the first time the United States and South Korea have suspended the so-called war games since 1994.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo Tuesday called for North Korea to respond with “corresponding measures,” though not providing specifics.
The decision to suspend the August exercise was made under close cooperation between the United States and the South, as a way to maintain the momentum amid inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korea dialogue, Choi told reporters.
“The United States and South Korea, after working closely, concluded on suspending the defensive Freedom Guardian military exercise planned for August,” Choi said at a press briefing.
Seoul’s defense ministry made it clear that the suspension applies only to the Freedom Guardian exercise, which is jointly carried out by the United States and South Korean troops.
In contrast, the annual Ulchi is a weeklong emergency preparedness exercise supervised by the Ministry of Public Administration and Safety and has nothing to do with the U.S. troops.
Suspension of the Ulchi exercise “is under discussion, still undecided,” South Korean presidential office spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom said during a briefing Tuesday.