US, South Korean Defense Chiefs agree to resume combined exercises
US, South Korean Defense Chiefs agree to resume combined exercises
Joint US-South Korean military exercises set to continue after delay for Winter Olympics
21 March, 2018, 08:05
South Korea and the United States will on Friday commence postponed military exercises although the manoeuvres appear to have been scaled back amid a diplomatic thaw on the Korean peninsula.
"It seems that our military cares about (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-un's feelings", Hong Ji-man, the party's spokesman, said in a written commentary. "Key Resolve will take place for about two weeks from mid-April, and Foal Eagle is to run for four weeks", an official at South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) told Yonhap.
Seoul's defense ministry announced the plan to begin the allies' Foal Eagle/Key Resolve drills in Korea, which were delayed during an Olympic detente, on April 1 at a scale "similar" to that of previous years. The two are set for a historic meeting sometime before the end of May.
Some observers had questioned whether the 2018 version of the military exercises would be the same length and scale as previous iterations given the recent diplomatic engagement with North Korea, but Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan stressed that the exercises "are the same scale, scope and duration as previous years".
"Our combined exercises are defense-oriented, and there is no reason for North Korea to view them as a provocation", the Pentagon's statement read, adding that Pyongyang was informed of the drills' schedule and nature.
As part of the deal, North Korea agreed to suspend missiles and nuclear weapons tests and to not object publicly to the joint drills, the White House said. Pyongyang has not yet confirmed Kim's intention to meet the United States president.
The exercise was put on hold in March to avoid ratcheting up tension in the Korean Peninsula ahead of the Winter Olympics, which was held in Pyeongchang in South Korea.
South Korean officials said this year's exercises would, unlike previous years, not involve USA nuclear-powered aircraft carriers or bombers.
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