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Kim's Sister Warns South Korea-US Drills Will Rekindle Tensions

Kim's Sister Warns South Korea-US Drills Will Rekindle Tensions

Sunday, 1 August, 2021 - 13:30
Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, looks on in the garden of the Metropole hotel during the second North Korea-US summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said on Sunday that if South Korea carries out a planned joint military exercise with the United States next month, it will damage the resolve of the two Koreas to rebuild relations, state media KCNA reported.


“For some days I have been hearing an unpleasant story that joint military exercises between the South Korean army and the US forces could go ahead as scheduled,” Kim Yo Jong said.


“I view this as an undesirable prelude which seriously undermines the will of the top leaders of the North and the South wishing to see a step taken toward restoring mutual trust and which further beclouds the way ahead of the North-South relations,” she said.


Kim Yo Jong also said a recent decision to restore hotlines between the two Koreas should not be seen as anything more than reconnecting "physical" ties, and that it would be "thoughtless" to assume that summits are around the corner.


Her comments come at a time when North and South Korea are in talks to hold a summit as part of efforts to restore relations. Washington and Seoul are due to hold a joint military drill later in August.


"Our government and military will keep a close eye on whether the South Koreans go ahead with the aggressive war exercises, or make a big decision. Hope or despair? That's not up to us," Kim Yo Jong said in a statement carried by KCNA.


Regular drills between Seoul and Washington have been a long-running source of animosities on the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea calling them an invasion rehearsal and responding with missile tests. South Korea and the US have repeatedly said their drills are defensive in nature.


The two Koreas, still technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a ceasefire, on Tuesday reconnected hotlines the North severed in June last year.


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