Australia will join the annual US-South Korea military exercises next week following Pyongyang’s decision to hold off its plan to attack Guam, Defence Minister Marise Payne said on Wednesday.
Payne told the local ABC radio station that “Australia has played a small role itself since 2010 and I think we have just over two dozen ADF members participating on this occasion.”
“I think that given their regularity and given their history they should not be seen in any way as a provocative exercise,” Payne added, referring to the rising tension on the Korean peninsula and the recent exchange of threats between Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.
The military drills are set to begin on August 21. North Korea said it would take this exercise into account when considering whether to resume its plans to attack Guam, the unincorporated territory of the US.
Kim Jong-un, earlier this week, decided to put the missile attack plans on hold “in order to defuse the tensions” with the US, adding he wanted to watch how the US behaves a little more before launching the offensive.
Payne also showed her support for Washington’s new policy on North Korea, the Strategic Accountability — a measure proposed by US State Secretary Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis seeking to pressure North Korea into the denuclearisation of the peninsula.
“They have indicated that they will continue to maintain the pressure in relation to sanctions and other actions on North Korea in an endeavour to persuade them to cease their previously reckless behaviour,” the Minister said in support of the need to avoid an armed conflict.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced earlier in August that his country will help defend the US in the event of a North Korean attack by invoking the ANZUS Security Treaty, co-signed by the government of New Zealand, which noted that any contribution to the support would depend on its own considerations.
The military pact was last invoked by the Australian government following the 9/11 terror attacks by Al Qaeda in the US.