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More South Koreans oppose delaying joint exercises despite North Korea concerns

More South Koreans oppose delaying joint exercises despite North Korea concerns
Seoul's military authorities said last week that U.S. and South Korean militaries had agreed to go ahead with joint training in August. File Photo courtesy of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps/Yonhap/UPI

Aug. 9 (UPI) -- About half of South Koreans in a recent poll said they are opposed to any postponement of planned joint exercises.

Five hundred people responded to an automated phone survey sent to 9,481 individuals on Friday, conducted by Realmeter on behalf of local network YTN. Among the respondents about 50.4% said they are opposed to delays to exercises, with 35% of the entire group expressing "total opposition" to postponement, Newsis reported Monday.

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About 45.3% said they are not opposed to delays to exercises, with 23.2% of all survey respondents expressing "strong support" for postponement.

Among respondents who identified as politically conservative, about 64.8% said they are opposed to delays. Among liberals, 60.3% said they are not opposed to postponement, the report said.

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South Korea has raised concerns about potential North Korean provocations in the event of exercises.

Last month during a military workshop North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had said that the "hostile forces are strengthening their fanatical and relentless warfare exercises for aggression, and continue to systematically expand their ability to preempt our country and build armaments."

Seoul's military authorities said last week that the U.S. and South Korean militaries had agreed to go ahead with Crisis Management Staff Training, scheduled to start Tuesday and end Friday. A joint Combined Command Post Training is to take place from Aug. 16 to 26.

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A South Korean foreign ministry official told News 1 on Monday that combined training plans are being "closely discussed" with the U.S. side, while keeping in mind COVID-19 concerns, the need to maintain joint "combined defense posture," and to support diplomatic efforts on the Korean Peninsula.

China rarely addresses U.S.-South Korea exercises, but on Friday during the virtual ASEAN Regional Forum China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi claimed the bilateral drills are "not constructive" for dialogue with North Korea.

News 1's foreign ministry said the Chinese statement on joint exercises is "unusual."

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"The international community fully understands that U.S.-South Korea exercises are mostly defense exercises and do not pose a threat to any specific country, including North Korea," the source said.

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