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The United States has vowed to continue to hold joint military exercises with Japan and South Korea despite calls from Russia and China not to provoke North Korea.

In remarks, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, “we are going to continue to make sure we have all the defensive capabilities that we need available to us in the region to defend our interests, as well as those of our treaty allies, Japan and South Korea. That’s why we have continued to try to improve our intelligence collection capabilities there in that part of the world, as well as making sure, in a readiness perspective, militarily we’re ready to defend ourselves and our allies. You’ve seen more bilateral exercises between us and our allies.”

Kirby also noted that the United States would be open to dialogue with North Korea. He said, “I would say, obviously, we remain willing to sit down without preconditions with Kim Jong-un to try to find the diplomatic path forward here for the denuclearization of the peninsula. That offer still stands.”

This comes as North Korea has fired almost 40 ballistic missiles since September, an unprecedented number significantly higher than previous years.

North Korea has argued that their ramp-up of tests and military drills is due to “western aggression” and military tests simulating an attack on North Korea. China and Russia have also come to North Korea’s defense, arguing that provocations by the United States result in North Korea’s increased tests and military exercises.


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