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S Korea, US to continue joint military drills

Seoul [South Korea], May 16 :
Despite North Korea cancelling the high-level talks with South Korea over the joint military drills by the latter and the United States, Seoul said that it would still continue with their joint military drills.

The comments were made after South Korean defence minister Song Young-moo and General Vincent Brooks, the commander of US Forces Korea held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss North Korea's sudden decision to cancel the inter-Korean talks, Yonhap news agency reported.

As reported by the North's Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday, military drills called 'Max Thunder' are taking place between the US and South Korea air forces.

The South Korean defence ministry said in a statement, "The exercise will proceed as planned, and regarding that, there are no differences between the South and US."

"On top of that, the exercise is designed to enhance the capability of pilots and is not an implementation of an operational plan or an attack manoeuvre," it added.

The KCNA lambasted the decision of South Korea and the US "as a rehearsal for invasion and a provocation amid thawing inter-Korean ties."

Meanwhile, the South Korean unification ministry in a statement expressed regret and hoped that the high-level talks between the two Koreas would be held soon, as part of the Panmunjom Declaration, signed between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in during the historic summit at the Panmunjom border village in the DMZ last month.

"It is regrettable that the North's unilateral move to postpone the high-level inter-Korean talks, citing the annual South Korea-US air drills does not conform with the spirit and purpose of the agreements reached between the leaders of the two countries," the unification ministry said.

"The government remains strongly committed to faithfully implementing the Panmunjom Declaration and urges the North to come out for talks as soon as possible for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula," it added.

The inter-Korean high-level talks were meant to take place on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom to follow-up on the summit by the two Korean leaders last month.

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