Echoing a White House announcement, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday that the joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea will be held after the the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
South Korea, the host nation of both the sports event and the military drill, came up with the proposal for "reasons of traffic, for reasons of de-conflicting an exercise," Mattis told reporters.
"As you know, exercises are not done just on military bases in the defense of ROK ... It'll start sometime following, not the Olympics but the Paralympics, which actually goes a little longer," he said.
"It's a practical matter, and we would call it de-conflicting," he noted. "It's just the normal de-confliction there."
He also added that the United States "have to be open to anything that would implement a diplomatic solution" to the Korean Peninsula crisis.
The White House said earlier that President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in said in a telephone call that the two nations will delay the military exercises to ensure the security of the upcoming 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
According to the White House, the two leaders agreed to "de-conflict the Olympics and our military exercises so that United States and Republic of Korea forces can focus on ensuring the security of the Games."
Vowing to be "committed to a safe and successful 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang," Trump also told Moon that the United States will send a high-level delegation to the Olympics