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S.Korea halts annual defense drill on improved ties with DPRK

(Xinhua)    13:25, July 10, 2018

SEOUL, July 10 (Xinhua) -- South Korea decided Tuesday to halt its annual defense drill this year, aimed at examining the country's war preparedness, on improved relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

According to the joint press release from the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, the decision was made during the Cabinet meeting in accordance with recent security situations and the suspension of the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises.

The cancellation of this year's Ulchi drill came after Seoul and Washington announced the halt of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) joint annual war games, slated for August, on June 19.

U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to stop any "provocative" war games with South Korea as long as talks continue with the DPRK during his first summit meeting with top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12.

The Ulchi drill is the country's biggest annual training to check the warfare preparedness and the crisis management, mobilizing some 480,000 officials from government offices and public institutions.

It was first conducted in 1968 in the name of Taeguk after a raid of DPRK commandos on South Korea's presidential Blue House in the same year, and the name was changed into Ulchi the following year.

From 2008, the Ulchi domestic drill and the Freedom Guardian military exercise, a South Korea-U.S. joint war game, were integrated into the Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercises.

The DPRK has denounced the joint annual South Korea-U.S. war games as a dress rehearsal for northward invasion.

Beginning next year, South Korea planned to combine the Ulchi domestic drill with the independent Taegeuk military exercise to introduce a new combined drill, tentatively named the Ulchi Taegeuk.

The Ulchi Taegeuk combined drill would involve the government, the military and the private sector to protect from outside armed attack, terrorism and large-scale disasters, according to the press release.

The military's independent Taegeuk exercise, originally scheduled for June, would be staged in October due to the suspension of the joint South Korea-U.S. war games.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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