- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 22, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - The Latest on the start of the annual U.S.-South Korea war games (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Japan’s new Foreign Minister Taro Kono says what’s needed is not talks but continued pressure on North Korea to get it to give up its nuclear weapons program.

He accused Pyongyang of using talks in the past to buy time, and said what he called “loopholes” in the latest U.N. sanctions need to be dealt with instead.

Kono, tapped to his post earlier this month, also had positive marks for the administration of President Donald Trump, stressing he saw no divisions there in his recent talks with top U.S. officials.

Kono told reporters Japan’s relationship remained positive with the U.S., this nation’s most important ally.

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3 p.m.

U.S. military commanders have dismissed the calls for Washington and Seoul to pause or downsize their joint military exercises to tamp down the tension created by North Korean threats to lob missiles toward Guam, saying that the drills are critical for maintaining military readiness against Pyongyang.

Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, told reporters in a visit to South Korea on Tuesday that while finding a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear problem is the priority, there’s a need to support diplomacy with “credible combat power.”

Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, says the allies should continue the war games until they “have reason not to.” ”That reason has not yet emerged,” he said.

They spoke hours after North Korea’s military issued its standard fiery threats, vowing “merciless retaliation” for exercises Pyongyang claims are an invasion rehearsal.

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