TOKYO (Sputnik) — The annual US-South Korean Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises that kicked off earlier on Monday are defensive, and the drills are not aimed at generating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said.
"The Ulchi exercise is a defensive drill conducted annually. We have no intention at all to raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The Ulchi exercise is aimed at checking on defense readiness aimed at protecting the lives and property of our people," Moon said during the South Korean Cabinet meeting, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have recently flared up following the adoption of the UN Security Council sanctions in early August in response to Pyongyang’s July missile launches. The move led to North Korea trading threats and warnings with the United States, with Pyongyang saying it might consider an attack on the area near the US territory of Guam in the Western Pacific.
In June, China initiated a road map for the settlement of North Korean crisis, the so-called double freeze plan, which provides for the simultaneous cessation of North Korea's nuclear activity and the US-South Korean military exercises. The initiative has been supported by Russia but rejected by the United States. North Korea has yet to issue a response to the proposal.