06:55 GMT +310 December 2019
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    US soldiers take a position during their drill at a military training field in the border city of Paju on March 7, 2017. The US military has begun deploying the THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system to South Korea, US Pacific Command said, with its first elements arriving on March 6, to protect against threats from North Korea

    US, S Korea to Postpone Military Drills to Bolster N Korea Peace Effort - US Defence Secretary

    © AFP 2019 / JUNG Yeon-Je
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    Last year, the Vigilant ACE drills were suspended amid dialogue with Pyongyang on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

    Defence Secretary Mark Esper said that the US and South Korea will postpone upcoming military drills to bolster the North Korea peace effort.

    "I don't see this as a concession. I see this as a good faith effort ... to enable peace," he said.

    Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono tells US, South Korean counterparts "no one could be optimistic about North Korea".

    "No one could be optimistic about North Korea. North Korea has repeatedly launched more than 20 missiles this year, including new types of ballistic missiles, as well as a submarine-launched ballistic missile," Kono said.

    Military drills held on the Korean Peninsula have been one of the cornerstones in the denuclearization dialogue between North Korea and the United States.

    In early November, media reported that the United States and South Korea might skip the Vigilant ACE annual joint military exercises in December for the second year in a row in support of diplomatic denuclearization efforts in North Korea.

    After the first US-North Korea summit in 2018, US President Donald Trump announced that he intended to suspend the joint military exercises with South Korea, calling them expensive and inappropriate in dialogue with Pyongyang. Since then, the allies have canceled several drills, which North Korea usually sees as a provocation.

    Related:

    Seoul Says US Trying to Convince North Korea to Resume Denuclearisation Talks - Reports
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    drills, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), South Korea, United States
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