World News

Pentagon plays down U.S.-South Korean drills after North suspends talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Tuesday played down ongoing military exercises with South Korea, saying they were routine and defensive in nature after North Korea blamed them for its decision to suspend high-level talks with Seoul scheduled for Wednesday.

“Republic of Korea (ROK) and U.S. military forces are currently engaged in the recurring, annual ROK-U.S. spring exercises, to include exercises Foal Eagle 2018 and Max Thunder 2018,” a Pentagon spokesman said, adding that the Max Thunder air combat drills were scheduled to run from May 14-25.

“These defensive exercises are part of the ROK-U.S. Alliance’s routine, annual training program to maintain a foundation of military readiness.”

Reporting by Phil Stewart and Eric Beech; Editing by James Dalgleish