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U.S., South Korea winter military drill

The US and South Korea agreed to delay joint military exercises during the Olympics

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The U.S. and South Korea have agreed to delay their regular joint military exercises during the upcoming Olympic games in the latter country, according to Yonhap News.

Yonhap News on Thursday reported that the tentative arrangement was reached following a telephone call between President Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Moon suggested the idea to Trump during the call, which comes before the 2018 Winter Olympics start in Pyeongchang, South Korea next month.

“I believe it would greatly help ensure the success of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games if you could express an intention to delay joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises during the Olympics in case the North does not make any more provocations,” Moon was quoted as telling Trump, according to Cheong Wa Dae, the South Korean president’s office.

“[Moon and Trump] agreed to de-conflict the Olympics and our military exercises so that the United States and the Republic of Korea forces can focus on ensuring the security of the Games,” the White House said in a separate statement Thursday.

America’s joint military exercises with South Korea are a recurring source of irritation for North Korea.

Trump and Moon spoke one day after the two Koreas reopened their dialogue channel at the joint security area of Panmunjom.

The channel’s reopening is a prelude to resurrecting government-level talks between North Korea and South Korea for the first time since December 2015.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday suggested his nation is willing to send athletes to the Olympics across its border in February.

Kim and Trump have repeatedly traded verbal barbs since last year over North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

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North Korea has long viewed joint military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. as practice sessions for an invasion of its territory.

Pyongyang has often responded to the drills by conducting missile tests, a practice which stokes fear in many of North Korea’s neighbors.

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