S.Korea, US mull delaying drills due to presidential election

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Seoul, Jan 13 (IANS) South Korea and the US are considering postponing their combined springtime military exercise due to the March 9 presidential election and the Covid-19 pandemic, multiple sources said on Thursday.

The allies have been discussing the possible delay in consideration of the virus’ unabated spread and the need to ensure South Korean troops can exercise their voting rights in the election unhindered by the round-the-clock command post training, Yonhap news Agency quoted the sources as saying.

“There have been discussions on the possible postponement due to the election season and the coronavirus woes,” an informed source told Yonhap.

Seoul and Washington conduct two major regular joint exercises each year — one in March and the other in August — to reinforce their defense capabilities against possible North Korean aggression.

For past major allied exercises, South Korea’s presidential election hardly affected their timing as voting took place in December.

But Election Day changed to March 9 in 2017 following the ouster of former scandal-hit President Park Geun-hye. Incumbent President Moon Jae-in began his single, five-year term in May that year, two months after the election.

Asked to confirm the allies’ discussions on the exercise, the South Korean Defence Ministry said the two sides were still in talks over the details.

The US Forces Korea (USFK) refused to comment on the exercise plans.

–IANS

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