The United States opposes Russia, China proposal to suspend South Korean drills

July 7, 2017 10:30 pm

A South Korean army helicopter carries a floating bridge during a -South Korea joint river crossing exercise in the border county of Yeoncheon, northeast of Seoul, December 10, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

has rejected a proposal from and that Washington should suspend joint drills with Seoul in exchange for Pyongyang halting missile tests and nuclear weapons programs.
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert made the announcement at a regular briefing on Thursday, after Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met at the Kremlin earlier in the week and made the so-called “freeze-for-freeze” proposal to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
“These are all things that have taken place since the 1950s. So that wouldn’t change,” Nauert said at the briefing, describing the military exercises as lawful and longstanding.
“There’s no equivalency between the and its activities and actions that it undertakes with its allies, including South Korea and also Japan. These are something that are lawful,” she added.

US Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert (File photo)

“We do these kinds of exercises and have relationships like this all over the globe. If China and Russia decide to come out against that, that is not going to change our position,” Nauert noted.
The spokeswoman also emphasized the role of China in pressuring North Korea to halt its missile programs, arguing that Beijing has “unique leverage” with Pyongyang because of the “strong trade relationship” between two countries.
North Korea announced on Tuesday it had successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which Pyongyang claimed could “reach anywhere in the world.”
US intelligence agencies said the missile was most likely a new ICBM with an estimated range of 5,500 kilometers (3,400 miles), capable of hitting Alaska.

This picture taken on July 4, 2017 shows North Korea’s new two-stage missile. (Photo by AFP)

Early last month, the United Nations Security Council imposed a fresh array of sanctions on North Korea in response to a number of missile tests carried out by Pyongyang this year.
Unsettled by North Korean missile and nuclear programs, the United States has adopted a war-like posture, sending a strike group and conducting joint military drills with North Korea’s regional adversaries Japan and South Korea. 
North Korea accuses the United States of plotting with regional allies to overthrow its government. Pyongyang says it will not relinquish its nuclear deterrence unless the United States ends its hostile policy toward North Korea and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea.
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