Seoul's unification ministry said on Monday that the Seoul-Washington military drills should not lead to military tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The ministry's spokesperson noted that Seoul will take its time to gradually revitalize inter-Korean dialogue following the restoration of the two Koreas' communication channels last week.
A Pentagon spokesperson also reiterated Washington's position on Sunday that any decision on the drill will be made through consultations between South Korea and the U.S.
The latest comments from Seoul and Washington followed a warning by the North Korean leader's sister Kim Yo-jong that the annual summertime military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. will cloud the future of inter-Korean relations.
In a statement issued by the North's state-run media on Sunday, Kim bluntly pressed Seoul to halt the exercises, adding that Pyeongyang will closely watch to see whether the South will again carry out its"hostile war exercise" or make a bold decision to scrap it.
Kim Yo-jong also commented on rumors of possible fourth inter-Korean summit following the two Koreas' restoration of their communication channels.
However, she underscored that the restoration is just a physical reconnection of a severed line - nothing more.
Kim's remarks suggest the speed and scope of progress in inter-Korean relations now depends on the suspension of the military drills and hint that there will be no cooperation on other agendas laid out by the South.
No details about the upcoming drill, such as its scale and method, are known other than it's scheduled for mid-August.
With the regime shrugging off the possibility of another inter-Korean summit, experts say there are no good incentives for the U.S. to pull the plug on the exercise.
There are some who insist it'll be difficult to postpone the drill further due to the upcoming transition of wartime operational control from Washington to Seoul.
For now, it's highly likely it will go ahead, but it'll be scaled down, in light of the pandemic.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.