South Korean President Moon Jae-In said he has proposed postponing joint military exercises with the United States to the post-Olympics, which never fail to make Pyongyang angry.
This is the first confirmation that Seoul is seeking to postpone the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle maneuvers, which usually begin in late February or early March and last until the end of April.
But South Korea hosts the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang from February 9-25, while the Paralympic games start on March 9.
North Korea is just 80 kilometers from Pyeongchang, on the other side of the heavily militarized border. The tensions are always redoubling at the time of the joint exercises that the North considers as the repetition of the invasion of its territory.
Moon said Tuesday on US television NBC that the two allies were planning to postpone the maneuvers.
“I made a proposal to that effect in the United States and the United States is studying it,” he said when he went to Pyeongchang to promote the games. “However, everything will depend on the behavior of the North”.
The organizers of the Olympics as the government would like the North to participate in what they present as the “Olympics of peace.” But the participation or non-participation of Pyongyang in sports competitions organized in the South has always been dependent on the political and military situation on the peninsula.
The mystery still hangs over North Korea’s intentions. Two pairs of North Korean figure skaters have qualified.
Last month, South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-Gyon warned that the North could be “a fatal blow” by launching a missile, for example, ahead of the competition.
The South Korean president assured: “Foreign tourists who come for the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang do not have to worry about security. I do not think North Korea is doing anything that could undermine the games. Everything is now in place and I hope that the Olympics will be an opportunity to ease tensions with the North, “he concluded.