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US cancels joint B-52 military drill after South Korean concerns amid North Korean angst

A B-52H Stratofortress. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)
May 18, 2018

This is a breaking news story.

The U.S. cancelled a planned military exercise with B-52 bombers and South Korean planes earlier this week over South Korea’s worries that the exercise could jeopardize the upcoming summit with President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal on Friday.

North Korea threatened to cancel the much-anticipated summit with the United States, and it has already cancelled high-level meetings with South Korea, because South Korea and the U.S. are conducting military exercises, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Tuesday. North Korea views such military drills as practice for invasion of its country.

South Korea asked not to participate in the military drills, the Wall Street Journal reported, adding that the U.S. has not commented publicly on South Korea’s decision at this time.

“The B-52s are currently executing their continuous bomber presence mission in the theater, which sometimes includes joint or allied interactions,” ann official at the U.S. Pacific Command told the Wall Street Journal.

The Trump Administration and military officials had said the military exercises were going to proceed as planned.

South Korean news agency Yonhap on Tuesday reported that the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the Max Thunder drills between the U.S. and South Korean air forces “are a rehearsal for invasion of the North and a provocation amid warming inter-Korean ties.”

North Korean state media KCNA had released the following statement:

“This exercise targeting us, which is being carried out across South Korea, is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula. 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.”

North Korean state media KCNA recently reported on a press release from the North Korean regime that officials have scheduled a ceremony to dismantle the country’s nuclear site on May 23, and they are inviting international press to attend in a rare opening up of the regime unlike the world has ever seen before.

This development comes days after North Korea released three American detainees to Secretary of State Pompeo on his second visit to the isolated regime in weeks, and President Trump announcing that the highly anticipated summit with Kim Jong Un will be held in Singapore on June 12.