News Briefs – August 7, 2019

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Seoul says U.S., S Korea preparing joint military drills

Seoul’s military says South Korea and the United States are preparing to hold their annual joint military exercises despite warnings from North Korea that the drills could derail the fragile nuclear diplomacy.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the exercises will be focused on verifying Seoul’s capabilities for its planned retaking of wartime operational control of its troops from Washington. It did not confirm reports that the drills began on Aug. 5.
North Korea has been ramping up its weapons tests in recent weeks while expressing frustration over the planned drills it sees as an invasion rehearsal and also the slow pace of nuclear negotiations with the United States.
The North suggested last month it might call off its unilateral suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests if the drills take place. AP
 

Turkish, U.S. officials meet for talks on Syria safe zone

Turkish and American military officials have met for negotiations about establishing a safe zone in northeastern Syria to address Ankara’s concerns about U.S-allied Syrian Kurdish forces in that region.
The Turkish defense ministry tweeted on Aug. 5 that the meetings were taking place in Ankara.
Turkey wants to control — in coordination with the U.S. — a 19-25 mile-deep zone within Syria, east of the Euphrates River, and wants no Syrian Kurdish forces there. Turkey sees the Syrian Kurdish fighters as terrorists aligned with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.
American troops are stationed in northeastern Syria, along with the Kurdish forces, and have fought the Islamic State group together.
Turkish-U.S. negotiations on the safe zone have stalled and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Aug. 4 renewed threats for a new military operation. AP
 

NATO says it’s not preparing for an unlikely U.S. withdrawal

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says he’s absolutely convinced the U.S. will remain in the military alliance and it has made no preparations for an unlikely U.S. withdrawal because doing so would send a signal that it could happen.
Stoltenberg made the comments in an interview while visiting New Zealand on Aug. 6. He says there is strong bipartisan support for NATO in the U.S. and words are being matched by deeds as the U.S. increases its military presence in Europe.
The New York Times reported earlier this year that President Donald Trump had privately said several times in 2018 that he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Stoltenberg says, however, that Trump’s message about allied nations needing to spend more on defense is having an impact. AP
 

Boeing-Max Software – Sources: Boeing changing Max software to use 2 computers

Boeing is developing software for the 737 Max that will use a second flight control computer to make the system more reliable, solving a problem that surfaced in June with the grounded jet, two people briefed on the matter said Aug. 2.
When finished, the new software will give Boeing a complete package for regulators to evaluate as the company tries to get the Max flying again, according to the people, who didn’t want to be identified because the new software hasn’t been publicly disclosed.
The Max was grounded worldwide after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.
Use of the second redundant computer, reported Thursday by the Seattle Times, would resolve a problem discovered in theoretical problem simulations done by the Federal Aviation Administration after the crashes. AP