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Kim Jong Un's sister warns US-South Korea drills could hamper negotiations between Koreas

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The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a warning that next month’s annual military drills between South Korea and the United States could undermine the prospects for better relations between the Koreas.

Kim Yo Jong said on Sunday that the military practice “seriously undermines the will of the top leaders of the North and the South wishing to see a step taken toward restoring mutual trust and which further beholds the way ahead of the North-South relations,” according to the Associated Press.

Her warning came just days after the two Koreas reopened their long-dormant communications channels.

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“For some days I have been hearing an unpleasant story that joint military exercises between the South Korean army and the U.S. forces could go ahead as scheduled,” Kim said, noting that the country’s government and military will “closely follow whether the South Korean side stages hostile exercise in August or make other bold decision.”

Joint military drills have long been a source of contention on the Korean Peninsula, as the North Koreans claim it is an invasion rehearsal, while the South Koreans and U.S. have said what they practice is defensive in nature. South Korea and the U.S. have canceled or downsized some of their exercises in recent years to support diplomatic means to end the North Korean nuclear crisis or because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, South Korea representatives said that no final decisions have been made about the specifics of the joint military exercises, according to Reuters.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry has disagreed with the notion that the drills should strain relations.

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“The unification ministry has consistently worked in a wise and flexible manner based on the stance that South Korea-U.S. joint military drills should not be used as a chance to heighten tensions on the Korean Peninsula under any circumstances,” ministry spokesman Lee Jong-joo said, according to the South China Morning Post.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un agreed to restart hotlines last week that had been quiet since a flare-up last year.

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Tags: News, South Korea, North Korea, Biden Administration, Defense, National Security

Original Author: Mike Brest

Original Location: Kim Jong Un's sister warns US-South Korea drills could hamper negotiations between Koreas

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