Joint drill will take a week to be scheduled

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Joint drill will take a week to be scheduled

The Defense Ministry said yesterday that Seoul and Washington still need at least a week to launch a joint naval exercise off the coast of Korea, indicating the two countries’ difficulty of reaching a consensus amid objections from North Korea and China.

Early Monday, the ministry said the joint drill could be held on Monday or Tuesday, but it wasn’t. The drill, aimed at warning North Korea against any further provocations similar to the March sinking of the Cheonan, has been delayed since early June.

Won Tae-jae, Defense Ministry spokesman, told reporters the two sides are still working on the details, including the time, size and methodology.

The exercise was initially planned for the Yellow Sea, but Won said that has also yet to be confirmed.

The Cheonan, along with 46 of its sailors, was sunk off the west coast by a North Korean torpedo attack. The North has denied any role. China is also opposed to a drill held near its waters.

“The important thing is this drill was designed to show the strong will of Korea and the U.S. to defend [Korea],” Won said. “We need to be flexible [about the venue].”

Won said he still expects the drill to be held this month. There is speculation that the details of the drill will be decided at a July 21 meeting of the defense and foreign ministers of the two countries in Seoul.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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