SEOUL, March 5 (UPI) -- The Chinese government is welcoming news of a joint U.S.-South Korea decision to suspend annual military exercises on the peninsula.
Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Tuesday at a regular press briefing the decision to cancel the spring exercises Key Resolve and Foal Eagle is encouraging news, South Korean news service Newsis reported.
"The Chinese side evaluates and supports all measures that help to ease tensions and promote trust," Lu said, according to Xinhua news agency.
The Chinese diplomatic spokesman added the political process of resolving the "issue of the Korean Peninsula" is at a crucial stage.
"We hope all relevant parties continue to walk together in good faith and make an active effort to make progress in the process of dialogue," Lu said.
The Chinese spokesman also criticized an earlier U.S. decision to end the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, in response to a question regarding Russia's decision on Monday to formally withdraw from the nuclear treaty.
Lu said he was concerned the U.S. decision to suspend compliance with the INF Treaty could bring about negative consequences for international peace and security. He added China seeks restored talks and constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia.
China's support of an end to U.S.-South Korea joint exercises comes at a time when the decision is dividing opinion in Seoul.
The exercises are being replaced with other types of drills, however.
South Korean television network MBC reported Tuesday an "alliance exercise" is being held in the South in place of Key Resolve.
The exercises focus on defense principles and leave out some maneuvers that prepare forces for attacks and counterattacks, according to the report.
The drills are called "19-1 Dongmaeng," or alliance, and began on Monday.