World

S. Korea considering scrapping exercise with US for Olympics

SEOUL South Korea is considering scrapping a regular military exercise with US forces next year to minimise the risk of an aggressive North Korean reaction during the Winter Olympics, the Yonhap News Agency reported yesterday.

North Korea denounces regular military exercises between South Korean and US forces as preparations to invade it, and it has at times conducted missile tests or taken other aggressive action in response.

The Winter Olympics will be held in South Korea from Feb 9 to Feb 25, with the Paralympics from March 8 to 18.

The South's Yonhap News Agency, citing an unidentified South Korean presidential office official, said the option of scrapping the exercise had been considered for "a very long time".

The Blue House presidential office said in a statement that no decision has been made on the exercise.

Officials at the defence ministry declined to comment.

The South Korean and US militaries usually hold a military exercise in March and April called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, which involves about 17,000 US troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans.

South Korea is hopeful that North Korean participation in the Winter Games will help improve their fraught relations.

The South has said any North Korean athletes who are eligible for the competition would be welcome.

A North Korean figure skating pair has qualified to compete but their participation has not been confirmed. - REUTERS

WORLD