After US-South Korea 'Max Thunder' Military Drills, North Korea Cancels Talks With South, Warns US

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| May 16 , 2018 , 11:47 IST

The annual military exercise 'Max Thunder' between the US and South Korea has had a significantly detrimental effect on the peace discussions with North Korea as Pyongyang called off talks with South Korea and warned the US that the Singapore meet with it may be next.

North Korean government news agency KCNA on Tuesday slammed the Max Thunder military exercise as an 'intentional' military provocation.

“This exercise, targeting us, which is being carried out across South Korea, is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula,” KCNA said.

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Cancelling the upcoming talks with South Korea, North Korea has urged the US to “undertake careful deliberations about the fate” of the planned historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un which is scheduled to take place in Singapore on June 12. The denuclearisation of North Korea was the central topic of the meet between Kim Jong-Un and Trump.

The Max Thunder 2018 exercise is scheduled to run between May 14-25, with the participation around 100 airplanes, including US F-22 stealth fighters, B-52 strategic bombers based on the Pacific island of Guam, and dozens of other US and South Korean fighters, bombers and transport aircraft.

The US defended the Max Thunder exercises as being a part of an annual routine.

“These defensive exercises are part of the ROK-US Alliance's routine, annual training program to maintain a foundation of military readiness,” the Pentagon said.

“The US will look at what North Korea has said independently, and continue to coordinate closely with our allies," White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

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Meanwhile, the US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert specified that Washington had not received any official notice from North Korea indicating that the Singapore summit was being cancelled.

“Kim Jong Un had said previously that he understands the need and the utility of the United States and the Republic of Korea continuing in its joint exercises,” Nauert said to media at the daily briefing.

“We have not heard anything from that government or the government of South Korea to indicate that we would not continue conducting these exercises,” she added.

South Korea defended the drills as well in an official statement.

"Our stance on the joint military drills is that it is hard to postpone the exercises again or suspend them, and there is no justification for doing so. But Kim said that he understands the South's stance,” a high-level official in South Korea's presidential office told CNN.