S.Korea military exercises to resume next month

Erika Holt
March 20, 2018

The Pentagon announced Monday that despite a recent thaw in tensions between the US and North Korea, the USA will resume joint military exercises with the South next month.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced on Monday that the joint exercises Key Resolve and Foal Eagle between the United States and South Korea will restart on April 1 "at a scale similar to that of the previous years".

In a press release Tuesday, the Defense Ministry said the defense chiefs of South Korea and the USA agreed to resume their annual joint military drills from April first.

It said the UN Command notified North Korea on Tuesday of the planned drills and explained that they are annual exercises of defensive nature.

"Our combined exercises are defense-oriented and there is no reason for North Korea to view them as a provocation", Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

But North Korea has angrily denounced the drills in the past.

The exercises had been delayed from their normal start in March as South Korean President Moon Jae-in sought to ensure a peaceful Olympics and Paralympics in his country.

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In the past, North Korea has often condemned the Foal Eagle exercise and used it as an excuse for its provocative missile and nuclear tests. -South Korea military exercises are on, despite Trump's planned meeting with Kim.

The tactical exercises that make up Foal Eagle will involve about 11,500 US forces and approximately 290,000 S. Korean military personnel. But North Korean state media said later they were a "grave provocation aimed to deliberately deteriorate the situation of the Korean peninsula and again push it to the brink of war".

After the postponement of the drills was announced in January, Pyongyang agreed to hold the first official talks with Seoul in more than two years and then sent athletes and officials to the Winter Olympics.

Pyongyang has not confirmed the exchange and threatened earlier this month to take "counteraction" if the United States and South Korea went ahead with the exercises.

But that appeared to have changed in the lead up to Kim's offer to meet with Trump. After months of saber-rattling between the two leaders, Trump agreed to meet the North Korean leader "sometime" in May.

Despite the North's denunciation of past drills, Chung said Kim understood that the allies must continue their "routine" joint military exercises.

"The practice is slated to begin April 1, and it will be conducted on a similar size in previous years", the Ministry of National Defense said, according to Yonhap.

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