S. Korea Suspends Civil Defense Drills

Seoul says move will boost diplomacy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 10, 2018 12:01 AM CDT
S. Korea Suspends Civil Defense Drills
South Korean army soldiers stand as women watch during an anti-terror drill as part of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, at Yoido Subway Station in Seoul, 2016.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

South Korea has suspended its summertime civil defense drills aimed at preparing against a North Korean attack to keep alive a positive atmosphere for nuclear diplomacy with the North. Seoul's decision on Tuesday to "temporarily suspend" the nationwide civilian drills had been anticipated since the United States and South Korea halted their annual military exercises following a summit last month between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, the AP reports. Streets in South Korean cities froze at the sound of air-raid sirens every year during the Ulchi drills in August with cars stopping on roads, pedestrians moving into buildings and subway stations, and government workers evacuating from their offices.

Kim Boo Kyum, minister of the interior and safety, said the suspension of the civilian drills was a follow-up to the suspension of the military exercises amid recent changes in "South-North relations and other security situations." He said the government and military will work to design a new civil defense program to be launched next year that will be aimed at preparing people for natural disasters and terrorist attacks in addition to military attacks. After their summit in Singapore, Trump and Kim issued a vague statement on the North's denuclearization that didn't describe when and how it would occur. It's now up to a US delegation led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to hammer out details with senior North Korean officials. The follow-up talks got off to a rocky start, with the North accusing the US of making unilateral demands, though Pompeo called the talks in Pyongyang productive.

(Read more South Korea stories.)

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