06:26 GMT03 March 2021
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    TOKYO (Sputnik) - The South Korean Defense Ministry ruled out the possibility of halting or scaling down the annual joint military drills with the United States even despite the resentment on the part of North Korea, the ministry's spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo said at a briefing on Monday.

    "Our stance on the holding of the annual joint military exercises, which are defensive in their nature, has not changed. We intend to preserve the existing scope of the maneuvers," Choi said, answering a reporter's question about a possibility of halting the exercises with Washington, in particular, of Ulchi-Freedom Guardian drills amid Pyongyang's protests.

    Last week, North Korea decided to cancel ministerial-level negotiations with South and doubted the rationality of holding of the forthcoming summit with the United States in the light of the start of the South Korean-US Max Thunder drills, that kicked off on May 11 and are set to last until May 25.

    READ MORE: N Korea Confirms Closure of Nuclear Site After Talks With South Suspended

    Addressing the issue, Seoul regretted the refusal of North Korea to hold the talks scheduled for May 16, but stressed that the military exercises would be continued in accordance with the plan, despite Pyongyang's protests. The South Korean Unification Ministry, in its turn, underlined that it would continue efforts to pursue a dialogue with Pyongyang.

    The next US-South Korean joint military exercises, the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, are set to be held in August.


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