South Korea and the United States should never have military drills again, and that the United States should remove all its U.S. Forces Korea troops who are present on the Korean Peninsula, according to North Korea.
“They underscored the need to create a peaceful environment on the Korean Peninsula before anything else this year,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Wednesday, referring to a statement from representatives who met in Pyongyang.
“There is no reason that the U.S. hideous nuclear strategic assets and aggressive armed forces remain in South Korea today at a time when the door for North-South dialogue opens and the important issues of the nation are seriously discussed,” the KCNA said. “Let us more strongly engage in the struggle to terminate the inside and outside warmongers’ every kind of dangerous nuclear war maneuvers of invading the DPRK forever.”
North and South Korea “can’t expect a bright future of improving the North-South relations” if “acute military tensions” continue, the state-run news mouthpiece said, NK News reported.
The U.S. and South Korea often hold military drills, which the North views as threatening and like a rehearsal for war.
While tensions have not necessarily eased in light of the nuclear situation on the Korean Peninsula, diplomatic actions have taken place that might indicate small progress, even if symbolic in nature.
North Korea recently announced it would send athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. It will also be sending a 230-person cheering squad.
On Jan. 3, North Korea reopened a once dormant telephone hotline that links directly to South Korea, and the two countries spoke for 20 minutes, this in advance of the historic North-South Korean meeting that took place – it was the first time negotiators met in two years.
Both North Korea and South Korea planned to re-open a second military hotline on the Korean peninsula. The red and green phone system is one of 33 direct lines that the two countries once used to communicate. The particular hotline that was reopened is located in the “truce village” of Panmunjom in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas.
On Jan. 4, following the opening of the hotline, President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to delay scheduled joint military exercises during the Winter Olympics next month.
On Jan. 9, North Korea agreed to send athletes to the Winter Olympics. Earlier that day, South Korea had said it would temporarily lift sanctions on North Korea so that they could participate in the Olympic Games. South Korea also proposed at that time that North Korean athletes should march with South Korean athletes during the Winter Olympics’ Opening and Closing ceremonies.
North Korea’s delegation to the Olympics in South Korea will include athletes, a cheering squad, a performance-art troupe, observers, a taekwondo demonstration team and journalists, according to a statement from South Korean Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung.