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North Korea warns US-South Korea drills threaten nuclear talks
North Korea is warning that planned U.S.-South Korea military drills could pose a threat to denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang.
A statement from North Korea published by its official Korean Central News Agency said that President Trump had promised to halt the exercises during two of his meetings with Kim Jong Un, but that the planned drills and weapons sent to South Korea show the U.S. is not keeping up its agreement, according to The Associated Press.
"With the U.S. unilaterally reneging on its commitments, we are gradually losing our justifications to follow through on the commitments we made with the U.S. as well," the statement said.
North Korea also said it is not required in any legal documents to halt its own nuclear and missile tests.
A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman also called the exercises, expected for August, a "rehearsal of war," according to Reuters.
"It is crystal clear that it is an actual drill and a rehearsal of war aimed at militarily occupying our Republic by surprise attack," the spokesman said in a statement.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn told The Hill in a statement Tuesday that Republic of Korea and U.S. military forces are preparing for a training program this fall that has been "adjusted to maintain readiness and support diplomatic efforts."
"This routine combined training demonstrates the United States' commitment to the ROK-U.S. alliance and defense of the Korean peninsula through activities that enhance combined readiness," he said.
A U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) spokeswoman told Reuters that it will not discuss planned training exercises.
"Readiness remains the number one priority for USFK," said Jacqueline Leeker. "As a matter of standard operating procedure, and in order to preserve space for diplomacy to work, we do not discuss any planned training or exercises publicly."
Last month, Trump and Kim met at the Demilitarized Zone and Trump later became the first sitting president to cross into North Korea. His administration has been pushing for Kim to give up his nuclear arms.
Pyongyang this year reinitiated ballistic missile tests, but Trump has said he's in "no rush" to form a denuclearization agreement.
--Updated 12:03 p.m.