Korea, US defense ministers agree to closely coordinate against NK threats

A tight headshot of Donald Trump. He has a bemused look on his face and is in front of an American flag

That has heightened fears that this year's UFG exercise may spark a new crisis after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left open a threat to fire missiles into waters near Guam, saying he would hold off for now while monitoring US behavior.

Moon, who took office in early May, held a summit meeting with US President Donald Trump in late June, reaching an agreement that South Korea would become a dominant player in addressing the peninsula issues. "But we don't need to be impatient", he said.

The exercises, which last 12 days, seek to coordinate a response to a possible invasion by North Korea. "There's no equivalency", between North Korea's illegal nuclear and missile testing and the US's regularly scheduled, internationally monitored, and completely legal bilateral drills, according to Nauert.

"The people worked together to rebuild the country from the Korean War, and we can not lose everything again because of a war", Mr Moon said in a nationally televised news conference.

"There is no military solution for this conflict, it must be worked out via negotiations", Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a YouTube interview, criticizing what she called escalating rhetoric by "all sides". President Trump also mentioned a red line in a statement regarding North Korea's nuclear and missile program in May, warning "I don't like red lines, but I have to act, if I must act".

The 10-day command post exercise known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian is to begin Monday and will involve tens of thousands of USA and South Korean servicemembers. "The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!"




He said: " The most important task at hand is for the USA and North Korea to "hit the brakes" on their mutual needling of each other with words and actions, to lower the temperature of the tense situation and prevent the emergence of an "August crisis".

The official daily Rodong Sinmun criticised the South Korean leader, who in a Tuesday speech asserted that Seoul's "big challenge at present" was the "issue of North's nukes and missile". "I do not necessarily believe that showed his determination to take military actions", he added. He urged the North to halt its efforts to develop a nuclear-tipped weapon that could reach the US mainland.

But Berlin played down the idea that Germany could be a significant mediator between Pyongyang and Washington, after hosting talks between the two a decade ago.

But Mr Moon said he believes dialogue with North Korea can happen when North Korea halts missile and nuclear tests. It also conducted two underground nuclear tests in 2016.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday said that a war on the Korean peninsula will never happen again and assured that the United States will not take any military action against Pyongyang without Seoul's consent.

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