MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Seoul has asked Washington to delay joint military exercises until after the 2018 Winter Olympics in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang to avoid potential provocations from North Korea during the games, the Financial Times newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the situation.
According to the media outlet, the United States is likely to accept the request and delay the so-called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises, which are usually held in late February or early March.
The report comes after the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, had confirmed on Sunday that the United States would send its national team to the 2018 Winter Olympics due to be held on February 9-25 in South Korea. The announcement came days after she suggested that it was "an open question" whether the US would send its athletes to South Korea in view of a security threat in the wake of Pyongyang's missile launches.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula has further escalated in the wake of Pyongyang's nuclear test and repeated missile launches conducted in violation of the UN Security Council's resolution, with the most recent ballistic missile test being conducted in late November.
US-S Korea Drills
After the launch of a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, reportedly capable of traveling some 8,000 miles and reaching Washington DC., the United States and South Korea held massive military war games, which simulated a real life response to a hypothetical attack by North Korea earlier in December.
The drills were followed by another exercise conducted jointly by the US, Japan and South Korea aimed at practicing missile detection.
The United States and South Korea regularly hold joint military exercises, which are being perceived by Pyongyang as acts of aggression against the country. Russia and China have repeatedly condemned the United States over the war games and urged all the sides involved to refrain from provocations that may further escalate the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
The joint Beijing-Moscow so-called "double freeze" plan aimed at settling the crisis on the Korean Peninsula stipulates a simultaneous halt of the US-South Korean war games and North Korea nuclear tests. The proposal, which according to Moscow "is still on the table," has so far been rejected by Washington.