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ROK groups demand end to drills

China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-21 08:15

SEOUL - Civic groups in the Republic of Korea on Wednesday called for a halt to war games between Seoul and Washington in the wake of the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which the country has vowed to use to spread a message of peace in the region.

Representatives from 169 advocacy and religious groups issued their call at a news conference at the Gwanghwamon Square in central Seoul.

A joint statement released by the groups said the military drills, which mobilized dangerous strategic weapons, had continued on the Korean Peninsula and were scheduled to be conducted when the winter Olympic Games are held early next year.

It said the crisis in the region must be ended and a peaceful era opened on the Korean Peninsula, adding that the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang could help achieve this ambition.

The statement aldo called on the US government to stop military action across the world as well as on the peninsula.

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is scheduled for Feb 9-25 next year. It will be followed by the Paralympic Games from March 9-18.

The winter sports event was forecast to coincide with the South Korea-US springtime war games as the military drills tend to kick off in mid-March every year and last by the end of April.

ROK President Moon Jae-in said in a Tuesday interview with US broadcaster NBC that if the Democratic People's Republic of Korea stops provocation until the Pyeongchang Olympics period, the ROK and the US could review the delay of the joint war games scheduled during the Olympics period.

Moon said he already made the overtures to the US side, which is currently reviewing his proposal, noting that if realized, it will help create atmosphere for dialogue between the US and the DPRK and between the ROK and the DPRK.

The ROK leader emphasized that a delay to the war games would solely depend on the DPRK.

Moon still opened a possibility for the DPRK's participation in the Winter Olympic Games, saying the people of the ROK would deliver a message of peace to the world through the upcoming Pyeongchang Games.

It remained to be seen whether Pyongyang would positively see Moon's offer to delay the annual war games, which the DPRK has accused of a dress rehearsal for northward invasion.

In 2017, the Key Resolve computer-simulated military exercise between the ROK and the US kicked off in mid-March, mobilizing a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier and strategic bombers. It was trailed by the Foal Eagle field training exercise that continued by the end of April.

In protest, the DPRK test-fired ballistic missiles during the war game period. In late November, Pyongyang test-launched Hwasong-15, which it claimed to have been an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the US mainland.

Xinhua

(China Daily 12/21/2017 page11)

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