SEOUL, Aug. 21 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in warned North Korea on Monday not to use joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States as a pretext for provocations, saying the maneuvers are purely defensive.
Moon made the remark during a Cabinet meeting as the allies kicked off the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise that the communist nation has long denounced as a rehearsal for an invasion of the northern country.
"The Ulchi exercise is a defensive drill conducted annually. We have no intention at all to raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula," Moon said. "The Ulchi exercise is aimed at checking on defense readiness aimed at protecting the lives and property of our people."
Moon also said the North shouldn't use the exercise "as a pretext for aggravating the situation."
"North Korea must understand that it is because of its repeated provocations that South Korea and the U.S. have to conduct defensive exercises, which in turn keeps the vicious cycle going," he said.
Moon said the current situation is more grave than ever before.
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