SEOUL, Nov. 18 (UPI) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a parachute landing exercise held by the country’s air force “under the simulated conditions of real war,” state-controlled Korean Central News Agency reported on Monday morning.
The exercises, the second such drills reported by North Korea over the past three days, came as the United States and South Korea announced the postponement of a joint flight training event that had been scheduled to start Monday.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo announced the postponement during a regional meeting in Bangkok on Sunday.
Esper told reporters the decision was made as an “act of goodwill” in order to revive stalled nuclear talks with the communist state.
“We encourage [North Korea] to demonstrate the same goodwill,” Esper said, urging Pyongyang “to return to the negotiating table without precondition or hesitation.”
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Sunday that the military supported “diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation on the ground peacefully.”
“The reason we’re [postponing the exercises] is to give the North Koreans an opportunity to reconsider some of their recent provocations and come back to the negotiating table,” he said.
North Korea has conducted several short-range missile launches since a February summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un ended abruptly without an agreement.
Kim “expressed great satisfaction” at the parachuting drill of the air and anti-aircraft force of the Korean People’s Army, Monday’s report said, and “underscored the need to organize and guide drills in an effective way with the main stress on fully training all combatants to successfully discharge their duties under any condition.”
Kim added that such exercises were necessary to “develop the KPA into an invincible army.”
On Saturday, KCNA reported that Kim viewed a “combat flight contest” of the air force held at Wonsan Kalma Airport.
Trump on Sunday called on Kim to return to the negotiating table, writing on Twitter that “I am the only one that can get you where you have to be.”
Trump’s tweet came in response to North Korea calling his political rival Joe Biden a “rabid dog” who “should be beaten to death with a stick” after Biden criticized Kim Jong Un.
“Mr. Chairman, Joe Biden may be Sleepy and Very Slow, but he is not a ‘rabid dog.’ He is actually somewhat better than that,” Trump tweeted while appearing to hint at another summit with the North Korean leader on the horizon.
“You should act quickly, get the deal done!” he wrote. “See you soon!”