May 16, 2018 08:31
North Korea has canceled Wednesday's high-level talks with the South and says the U.S. will have to "undertake careful deliberations about the fate" of the upcoming summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump because of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
Pyongyang's state-run news agency said the Max Thunder exercises are a "rehearsal for invasion" of North Korea and a provocation despite what appears to have been warming ties between the North and South.
The official [North] Korean Central News Agency also said, "The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities."
The White House has said very little except to say it will continue to coordinate closely with its allies.
The Pentagon describes the Max Thunder exercises as a routine annual training to "enhance [South Korea]-U.S. alliance's ability to defend [South Korea] and enhance interoperability and readiness." It says this has been clear for many decades.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert pointed out that Kim has said he understands and appreciates the importance of such exercises to the United States. She said as of now, the U.S. is still going ahead with plans for the summit with Kim.
But others who have worked closely with the North over the years say there are hardliners who may want to sabotage diplomatic negotiations they believe could imperil the Kim dynasty.
Seoul said Wednesday's talks between the North and South were to have focused on demilitarization and plans to formally end the Korean War.
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