Mattis: Military exercises delayed during Olympics to restart at end of March


Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday that joint military exercises with South Korea — delayed until after the Winter Olympics due to tensions with North Korea — will begin again toward the end of March.

“Exercises are not just done on military bases in defense of [South Korea],” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon. “So we worked with [the South Koreans] on it and [the exercises] will start sometime … after the Paralympics.”

The Games take place Feb. 9 – 25 in Pyeongchang — which is 50 miles south of the demilitarized zone — followed by the Paralympic Games, which run March 8 – 18.

President Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in earlier in the day spoke by phone and agreed to delay the annual joint military exercise known as Foal Eagle that was scheduled to take place during the Winter Olympics, according to the White House.

The announcement comes after North and South Korea on Wednesday reopened a hotline between them for the first time in nearly two years.

Mattis said the proposed talks between the two countries “are clearly the result of the amount of international pressure,” but he does not know if it is a true chance at peace or a ruse on North Korea’s part.

“It shows the democracies and the nations that are trying to stop this from going to war, and stopping the provocations of nuclear weapons development and ballistic missile launches, are united in trying to find a diplomatic solution,” Mattis said.

The former Marine Corps general also touched on the ongoing protests in Iran.

“We — the American people — do not have an issue with the Iranian people,” said Mattis, a former head of U.S. Central Command in the Middle East.

“We’ve got a big issue with the Iranian authoritarian regime and it appears there are an awful lot of Iranian people who have an issue with it as well.”

Tags action Defense Donald Trump James Mattis Military North Korea Olympics South Korea Winter Olympics

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