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South Korea, US begin massive military drill

South Korea, US begin massive military drill

The U.S. and South Korean militaries began their annual joint exercises on April 1, following a monthlong delay for the Winter Olympics and while North-South talks took place.

A South Korean military official said that as previously announced, South Korean and USA troops will begin their joint exercise on Sunday with a massive double dragon amphibious landing drill.

The computer-simulated Key Resolve is scheduled for two weeks starting in mid-April.

Some 300,000 South Korean soldiers were participating in the four-week Foal Eagle training alongside more than 11,500 US troops, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

The exercise has also been shortened from two months to one, it said.

The US and South Korea yesterday started a low-key joint military drill as a diplomatic thaw over North Korea gathered pace. The U.S. military also is expected to deploy fewer strategic weapons such as U.S. aircraft carriers and supersonic bombers, South Korean officials have been quoted as saying.

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

The flurry of reconciliatory moves comes after the Pyeongchang Winter Games, which the North used to mount a charm offensive, sending athletes, cheerleaders and even leader Kim Jong Un's powerful sister as a delegate.

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 USA and Japan.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his South Korean counterpart, Song Young-moo, said in a statement earlier this month that the exercises would be held "at a scale similar to that of previous years".

A Pentagon spokesman said in March that the two joint drills would involve about 23,700 United States troops and 300,000 South Korean forces.

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.


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