South Korea and the United States may consider postponing their joint military exercises next year until after the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
This comes directly from President Moon Jae-in, who said the potential plan is part of efforts to reduce tension on the Korean Peninsula and invite North Korea to the Winter Olympics.
In an interview with U.S. broadcaster NBC on Tuesday, President Moon said the annual military drill between South Korea and the U.S. could be put off.
He said he had made the suggestion to the U.S. and that Washington is currently reviewing it. But he added that the decision depends on how North Korea behaves.
President Moon said South Korea is waiting for the North to decide on whether to take part in the winter games and added that, given their track record, it is likely to make a decision at the very last minute.
He allayed fears about the safety of those taking part in the games, saying he believes the North will not try to disrupt the sports competition.
Many observers say that if the North indeed sends athletes to the games and refrains from provocations, this could lead to a turning point toward dialogue, easing tensions on the peninsula.
Last month, the UN General Assembly also adopted an Olympic Truce for the PyeongChang games.
President Moon's proposal to delay the joint exercises is in line with the aim to make next year’s games an Olympics of peace.
The Key Resolve and Foal Eagle annual drills are typically held in March. Although they do not overlap with the Olympics held from February 9 to the 25, they will likely coincide with the Paralympic games scheduled from March 9 to the 18.
Pundits say that North Korea’s longtime ally China would actively welcome the proposed delay.
However, as President Moon said, the key to all of this is North Korea's attitude. It's very possible that Pyongyang could still engage in provocations to solidify its nuclear power status.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had declared the North’s ambition is to complete its nuclear capabilities, and for this the regime needs to successfully miniaturize nuclear warheads through nuclear tests.
It also needs to verify the atmospheric reentry technology through more test launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles.