South Korea proposes war games delay ahead of ′peace Olympics′ | News | DW | 20.12.2017
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Asia

South Korea proposes war games delay ahead of 'peace Olympics'

The South Korean president has proposed a major delay to annual war games with the US to ease tensions on the Peninsula. Tensions have been high since North Korea stepped up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

South Korea President Moon Jae-In on Wednesday proposed delay joint military exercises with the US in a bid to reduce tensions with North Korea ahead of the Winter Olympics.

"I have made such a proposal to the US and the US is now reviewing it," Moon told US broadcaster NBC. "However, it will all depend upon how North Korea will behave."

Read more: Things to know about international military exercises

Opposition parties criticized Moon's proposal to delay the war games, saying it undermines the country's defenses at a tense moment on the Korean Peninsula. In November, North Korea launched its most advanced ballistic missile, raising tensions in the region.

"This amateurish government is risking national security and rattling the South Korea-US alliance," said a spokeswoman of the opposition Liberty Korea party.

The military exercises include the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills conducted annually between South Korea and the US. The military drills generally run from late February to the end of April. The winter games are scheduled to take place just before the drills would start.

South Korea often conducts military exercises with the US. In December, South Korean soldiers and US marines participated in winter training at Mount Hwangbyeong, a venue for the Winter Olympics.

South Korea often conducts military exercises with the US. In December, South Korean soldiers and US marines participated in winter training at Mount Hwangbyeong, a venue for the Winter Olympics.

'Help ease tension'

Officials and organizers have described the Pyeongchang winter games as the "peace Olympics" in a bid to underscore the harmonious nature of the sports competition. However, North Korea has yet to announce whether it will send athletes to the games.

But President Moon aimed to reassure observers, participants and attendees, saying North Korea is unlikely to make any provocations during the games due to their apolitical nature.

Read more: The North Korea crisis: 10 questions, 10 answers

"Foreign tourists coming for the Pyeongchang Winter Games won't need to worry about security. I don't think North Korea will do anything that may undermine the Olympics," Moon said.

"Everything is now in place and I hope these Olympics will serve as an opportunity to help ease tension with the North."

ls/jil (AFP, Reuters)

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