|North Korea has long condemned the drills as an invasion rehearsal despite repeated assurances from Seoul and Washington that their purpose is defensive. (File photo by=Chung Sung-jun/Getty Images|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] South Korea and the United States should conduct joint military exercises this month as planned has been reaffirmed by the chief policymaker of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) on Tuesday.
Rep. Park Wan-joo acknowledged in a meeting with reporters that there’s a "minority opinion" within the party against the annual drills, but he added that the issue doesn’t warrant a plenary session of DP lawmakers. "The party chairman stated the principle that it is correct to hold the South Korea-U.S. combined exercises within a broad framework, and that is the party's position," Park said in response to a question asking if it is the party's official position that the exercises should proceed. Five-term DP Rep. Sul Hoon called for postponing the drills in light of last week's restoration of inter-Korean communication lines,one day earlier.
The suggestion came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister, Yo-jong, warned that the allied exercises could hurt inter-Korean ties. Speaking at a party meeting Monday, DP Chairman Rep. Song Young-gil responded that the drills are not "hostile," as believed by Kim Yo-jong, but defensive in nature and meant to maintain peace. He said they "have to proceed as planned." Meanwhile, North Korea has long condemned the drills as an invasion rehearsal despite repeated assurances from Seoul and Washington that their purpose is defensive.