S.Korea, US mull scaling back military exercises
South Korea and the US were considering scaling back combined military exercises due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, American Defence Secretary Mark Esper said.
Esper made the remark on Monday after talks with South Korean Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo at the Pentagon, likely referring to the computer-simulated training exercises planned for March, reports the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency.
On Tuesday, South Korea confirmed 893 cases with nine deaths.
"General Abrams and General Park are looking at scaling back the command post training due to concerns about the coronavirus," Esper said at a joint press conference with Jeong, referring to US Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams and South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Park Han-ki.
Jeong said the two generals were looking into the "serious" situation caused by the coronavirus but stopped short of confirming Esper's remarks.
The allies will decide how to conduct the exercises after completing a joint assessment, he said.
Meanwhile in Seoul, US Forces Korea on Tuesday denied a media report that it has proposed postponing the exercises, Yonhap News Agency reported.
"A recent media article reporting United States Forces Korea proposing the postponement of future combined training is inaccurate. Any decision regarding combined training will be a US-ROK Alliance decision and not a unilateral decision," it said in a release Tuesday.
ROK stands for South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea -IANS