In this March 12, 2016, file photo, Marines of the U.S., left, and South Korea, wearing blue headbands on their helmets, take positions after landing on a beach during the joint military combined amphibious exercise, called Ssangyong, part of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea. (Associated Press/Yonhap/Kim Jun-bum)
Joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises scheduled for next month are going ahead, a top Seoul official said Saturday, despite a threat by North Korea to boycott working-level talks with Washington and possibly restart nuclear and longer-range missile tests.
"As far as I know, President (Donald) Trump did not promise the cancellation of this upcoming joint military exercise," Choi Jong-kun, secretary for peace planning to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said at the Aspen Institute's annual strategic forum, according to a video of the event. "If he had ever done that … we would have (been) consulted and organized it and used it very strategically."
North Korea hinted Tuesday that long-stalled working-level nuclear talks with the U.S. due to be restarted soon could be halted if the U.S. goes ahead with the planned 19-2 Dong Maeng (alliance) exercise scheduled to take place in August.
In a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, a spokesman for the country's Foreign Ministry said that if the exercise is held, "it will affect DPRK-U.S. working-level negotiations."
DPRK is the acronym for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"We will make a decision regarding the working-level negotiations after watching the U.S.' upcoming moves," the spokesman added.
The North has long denounced the joint exercises as a rehearsal for invasion, a charge the U.S. and its allies have denied.
In a separate statement also carried by KCNA on Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry said that the North is rethinking whether to abide by its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests, as well as other steps aimed at improving ties with the United States, linking these to the scheduled military exercises.
Trump vowed to suspend military drills with South Korea during his first meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The last Dong Maeng exercise was held in the spring, replacing much larger exercises the U.S. and South Korea agreed to cancel in recent years. Dong Maeng is largely computer-based and much smaller than traditional exercises such as Foal Eagle or Key Resolve, but has still drawn the ire of the North.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency, quoting unnamed sources, reported Sunday that the two allies could rename the drills, in apparent consideration of North Korea's demands.
Questioned about the preparedness of U.S. and South Korean forces, Choi said "combat readiness has never been compromised because while we have been suspending or canceling large-size exercises, small-scale exercises … have been continuing."
"For the record, military interoperability has never been compromised," he added.
Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials are warning soldiers and military families to be aware of scammers using the Exchange's logo.
In a news release Wednesday, Exchange officials said scammers using the name "Exchange Inc." have "fooled" soldiers and airmen to broker the sale of used cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and boat engines.
KABUL (Reuters) - The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility on Sunday for a suicide blast at a wedding reception in Afghanistan that killed 63 people, underlining the dangers the country faces even if the Taliban agrees a pact with the United States.
The Saturday night attack came as the Taliban and the United States try to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government.
Islamic State fighters, who first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north, are not involved in the talks. They are battling government and U.S.-led international forces and the Taliban.
The group, in a statement on the messaging website Telegram, claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall in a minority Shi'ite neighborhood, saying its bomber had been able to infiltrate the reception and detonate his explosives in the crowd of "infidels".
Calling aviation geeks in New York City: The British are coming.
In their first visit to the United States since 2008, the Royal Air Force "Red Arrows" will perform an aerial demonstration next week over the Hudson River, according to an Air Force news release. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels demonstration teams will also be part of the show.