Sputnik–North Korea announced on Wednesday that it would be suspending the May 16 talks with South Korea over ongoing joint military drills being conducted by Seoul and Washington.
According to Yonhap News reports, the Max Thunder military drills being carried out by South Korea and the US were a rehearsal for an invasion of North Korea, which the North deemed a “provocation.” The high-level talks, which were a follow-up to the late April meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In, were expected to take place on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom, the site of the first round of talks.
The now-suspended meeting was meant to focus on plans to formally declare an end to the Korean War and pursue a “complete denuclearization,” Reuters reported. Such a goal was a key part of the Panmunjom Declaration by North and South Korea on April 27, 2018.
Roughly 100 aircraft, including US F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, are expected to take part in the Max Thunder exercises.
The move to suspend talks is also putting planned North Korea-US talks in jeopardy as North Korea is threatening to suspend the US summit as well. Talks between Kim and US President Donald Trump are expected to take place in Singapore on June 12.
“This exercise targeting us, which is being carried out across South Korea, is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula,” a report from the North Korean Central News Agency stated, according to Yonhap News. “The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-US summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities.”
The Max Thunder drills are expected to continue for the next two weeks.
This decision comes after North Korea stated in early May that it would begin dismantling the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
The US State Department responded Tuesday, saying it has had no information from North Korea about the threat to cancel the summit between Kim and Trump and was moving ahead with preparations for the meeting.