US And South Korea Begin Joint Military Exercise

Glen Mclaughlin
April 2, 2018

This year's exercises were delayed by about a month for the Winter Olympics and to help create conditions for a resumption of talks between North and South Korea.

An official from South Korea's Ministry of National Defense said that the annual Foal Eagle drill was launched with the start of the Ssangyong joint military exercises, participated in by US and South Korean Marines and Navy.

The exercises - known as Foal Eagle and Key Resolve - were originally scheduled for earlier this year but were put off until after the Olympic and Paralympic games.

Almost 12,000 US troops will join around 300,000 South Korean soldiers for the joint exercises, the largest annual exercises between the two nations.

In announcing the dates last month, Pentagon spokesman Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan insisted the exercises are "defense-oriented and there is no reason for North Korea to view them as a provocation".

North Korea strongly opposed the annual drills and took provocative actions such as launching ballistic missiles in the past.

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Ssangyong is expected to last until next Sunday, while the entire Foal Eagle drill will run for four weeks, down from last year's eight-week program, which kicked off on March 1. Moreover, US supercarriers or nuclear submarines were not deployed to the military exercise.

Pyongyang has long denounced the joint drills as a symbol of Washington's hostile policy and rehearsal for invasion.

The United States agreed to the change so as not to provoke North Korea, which sent athletes, artists and a government delegation to the Games.

Tension around Korean peninsula has reportedly shown signs of easing in recent weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has confirmed commitment to the inter-Korean talks and summits with United States and Japan.

Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are reportedly expected to discuss denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and improvement of the relations at the upcoming summit.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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