North Korea dismisses drills delay

Source:Agencies Published: 2019/11/19 21:08:40

US breaks off defense cost talks as S.Korea slams $5b demand

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (in white shirt) visits a fishery station at an undisclosed location in North Korea, in the undated photo released by the Korean Central News Agency on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

The US must end its joint exercises with Seoul "once and for all" to facilitate dialogue with Pyongyang, North Korea said on Tuesday, just days after the allies postponed planned drills.

The US and South Korea said on Sunday they would delay annual joint aerial exercises slated for this month in an act of "goodwill" after months of deadlocked nuclear talks.

Pyongyang has long protested the joint drills, which it condemns as preparations for invasion, and Seoul and Washington last year canceled several training sessions in the wake of the Singapore summit between US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

But Kim Yong-chol, a senior North Korean official who formerly led talks with the US, said the weekend postponement was irrelevant.

"We demand that the US quit the drill or stop it once and for all," Kim Yong-chol said in a statement carried by the KCNA news agency.

"The suspension of the drill does not mean ensuring peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and is not helpful to the diplomatic efforts," he added.

North Korea had "no intention" to sit down with the "tricky US" and would not return to talks "before the complete and irrevocable withdrawal of its hostile policy."

"From now on, the DPRK will get due compensation for every administrative achievement the US president has talked too much about for over a year," Kim Yong-chol added, referring to North Korea by its official name.

Trump has repeatedly pointed to North Korea's moratorium on nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches as foreign policy successes for him. But negotiations have been gridlocked since the Hanoi summit in February broke up in disagreement over sanctions relief, while October's working-­level talks rapidly broke down in Sweden.

On Tuesday, the US broke off talks on increasing South Korea's share of the cost of hosting a US military contingent after the two sides failed to narrow differences in a row that has raised questions about the US deployment.

The breakdown in talks was a rare public disagreement in their 66-year alliance, with each side blaming the other for being unprepared to compromise on sharing the cost of keeping 28,500 US troops in South Korea as a deterrent to North Korea.

Trump has insisted that South Korea pay more for the US troops - he has also suggested pulling them out altogether - testing an alliance that has for decades formed a buffer against North Korean aggression. The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war under a truce, not a peace treaty, that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

South Korean lawmakers have said the US is seeking up to $5 billion a year, more than five times the 1.04 trillion won ($890.54 million) South Korea agreed to pay this year.


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