Seoul, United States and South Korea may once again skip the Vigilant ACE annual joint military exercises held in December in support of diplomatic denuclearization efforts in North Korea, media reported Saturday, citing sources.
Vigilant ACE exercises were also suspended in 2018 amid dialogue with Pyongyang on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
According to the Yonhap news agency's source, the military of the two countries "shared the understanding" on the drills' suspension, however the final decision will be made as a result of the annual talks between the US and South Korean defense ministers in mid-November.
"Instead, the two sides are considering conducting their own air drills in December," the source said as quoted by the media outlet.
In 2017, the Vigilant ACE drills were the biggest ever. About 230 aircraft were involved, including the B-1B bomber, which conducted exercises to destroy targets at a training ground near the border with northern neighbor in the South Korean province of Gangwon-do.
After the first US-North Korea summit in 2018, US President Donald Trump announced that he intended to suspend the joint military exercises with South Korea, calling them expensive and inappropriate in dialogue with Pyongyang. Since then, the allies have canceled several drills, which North Korea usually sees as a provocation.