The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — In a possible opening for diplomacy, the Trump administration on Thursday agreed to delay joint military exercises with South Korea until after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Hours later, the Korea governments agreed to discuss finding ways to cooperate on the Winter Games.
In Washington, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis insisted that delaying joint military exercises was a practical necessity to accommodate the Olympics, not a political gesture. He said the drill would be conducted sometime after the Winter Paralympics, which will be held March 8-18 following the Feb. 9-25 Olympic Games.
Mattis cited the wide array of logistics and transportation support required to conduct the Olympics, some of which would otherwise be tied up with military exercises.
The White House said U.S. President Donald Trump approved the postponement in consultation with South Korean President Moon Jae In. It said the delay will allow U.S. and South Korean forces to “focus on ensuring the security of the games.”