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ROK considering change to US war game schedule

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-24 07:56

SEOUL - The Republic of Korea was mulling consultations with the United States to reschedule next year's spring war game on the Korean Peninsula as the ROK-hosted Pyeongchang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games may coincide with the joint military exercises, government officials said.

An unidentified ROK government source was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying on Thursday that the ROK military was considering consultations with the US side to avoid the coincidence of the Key Resolve command post exercise between the two allies and the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was scheduled to last from Feb 9 to Feb 25 next year at the namesake city in the country's eastern province of Gangwon. The Paralympic Games would follow from March 9 to March 18.

The ROK-hosted winter sports event was widely forecast to coincide with the US-ROK spring war games as the joint military exercises tend to kick off in mid-March and last until the end of April.

This year, the Key Resolve computer-simulated exercise between combined forces of the two allies began with the mobilizing of a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier and strategic bombers. It was followed by the Foal Eagle field training exercise that continued until the end of April.

In protest, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea test-fired ballistic missiles during the war game as Pyongyang denounced it as a dress rehearsal for invasion.

Seoul now fears that if the joint military drills with the US were conducted during the Winter Olympics, the DPRK might resume provocation, re-escalating tensions on the peninsula, Yonhap said.

A thawing mood

Seoul has invited Pyongyang to participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as it believes this would help defuse military tensions on the peninsula and thaw soured inter-Korean relations.

The ROK submitted a so-called truce resolution in September, which was approved by the UN General Assembly on Nov 13 to appeal for a suspension of any conflict in the world during the Pyeongchang Olympics.

If Seoul conducts a massive military exercise with Washington during the winter sports event, it would damage the significance of the resolution and hurt the Olympic spirit.

The United Nations has, since 1993, adopted Olympic truce resolutions every two years to honor peace, one of the Olympic spirits.

An unnamed official with the presidential Blue House of the ROK was quoted by Yonhap as saying that halting the joint war games in the Winter Olympic period is one of options that can be reviewed.

Xinhua

(China Daily 11/24/2017 page11)

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