US, South Korea to shelve air drill to avoid risking nuke talks with North Korea

US and South Korean military personnel in attendance during a visit by US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in do the Joint Security Area on June 30, 2019.
US and South Korean military personnel in attendance during a visit by US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in do the Joint Security Area on June 30, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL • The United States and South Korea will suspend a planned air-power military drill for the second straight year to avoid increasing tensions with North Korea while denuclearisation talks between Washington and Pyongyang are stalled, Yonhap News reported yesterday, citing an unidentified official.

Vigilant Ace, the joint exercise scheduled for next month, involves hundreds of aircraft, including US strategic bombers, the news agency said.

South Korean and American officials will make the final decision on the suspension when they meet in the middle of this month, Yonhap reported.

Both countries will instead have their respective drills independently "to confirm military readiness", the official said in the report.

A South Korean government official said that the military should "continue to back up" diplomatic efforts to denuclearise North Korea, according to Yonhap.

North Korean and American officials met in Stockholm last month for their first direct nuclear negotiations in eight months, but the talks broke down with a disagreement over what was discussed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2019, with the headline 'US, S. Korea to shelve air drill to avoid risking nuke talks with North'. Subscribe