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Saturday October 20th, 2018 3:21PM

The Latest: Seoul criticizes Pyongyang over canceled talks

By The Associated Press
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The Latest on North Korea's threat to cancel the summit with the United States (all times local):

10:50 a.m.

South Korea says North Korea's move to cancel a high-level meeting at the last-minute over regular allied military drills was "regrettable" and demanded the North's quick return to talks.

Seoul's Unification Ministry spokesman Baek Tae-hyun said Wednesday that the North's decision goes against the spirit of last month's inter-Korean summit, where the Koreas' leaders issued a vague vow on the "complete denuclearization" on the Korean Peninsula and pledged permanent peace between the rivals.

Baek didn't provide a straightforward answer when asked whether Seoul sees the North's move as potentially affecting the planned summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump over the North's nuclear weapons program.

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5:55 a.m.

The Pentagon says the military exercise that prompted North Korea to cancel a high-level meeting with South Korea on Wednesday and threatens a planned summit with the U.S. next month is a routine, annual event that is purely defensive in nature.

Army Col. Rob Manning says Exercise Max Thunder 2018 is designed to improve the abilities of the U.S. and South Korea to operate together. It began on Monday and is slated to run through May 25, and is expected to include aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps, as it has in the past.

Last year it included as many as 1,200 U.S. personnel and about 640 South Koreans as well as various aircraft including F-16 fighter jets, F-18 Hornets and EA-18G Growlers from the Navy's electronic attack squadron.

Manning says the defensive nature of these combined exercises has been clear for many decades and has not changed.

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4:50 a.m.

The United States says it is going ahead with plans for the meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department says the U.S. has not heard anything directly from Pyongyang or Seoul that would change that. Her comment came shortly after South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported that the North was threatening to cancel the summit because of ongoing military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says Kim had previously indicated he understood the need and purpose of the U.S. continuing its long-planned joint exercises with South Korea.

Yonhap says the two-week military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea started Friday and included about 100 warplanes.

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4:20 a.m.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency says North Korea is canceling a high-level meeting between the two countries and is threatening also to cancel a summit with the United States due to ongoing military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea.

The two Koreas were set to hold a meeting Wednesday at a border village to discuss setting up military and Red Cross talks to reduce border tension and restart reunions between families separated by the Korean War.

Yonhap says North Korea's Korean Central News Agency reported that Wednesday's meeting was canceled and that Pyongyang was questioning whether next month's summit between North Korea's Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump can also take place as planned.

Yonhap says the two-week military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea started Friday.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News
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