Korea, US Begin Foal Eagle Joint Military Exercise

Frederick Owens
April 2, 2018

South Korea and the U.S. started their annual joint exercises on Sunday, after reducing the duration this year due to the current rapprochement with North Korea, the Defense Ministry announced here.

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.

Meanwhile, a total of nearly 300,000 South Korean servicemen and about 23,000 United States troops reportedly taking part in joint Foal Eagle maneuvers.

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.

The allies are holding the drills later than usual this year after postponing them to help pave the way for the North's participation in the Olympics and Paralympics, which were held in the alpine town of Pyeongchang.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in reportedly requested the military rescheduling prior to the event.

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It's unclear if joint military drills this month or in April will complicate Trump's efforts to secure the denuclearization of North Korea, a goal he will discuss with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a summit in upcoming weeks.

This year the exercises were pushed back and condensed because of the Olympics, which were held February 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The North sees the drills as a rehearsal for an invasion.

This year's drills feature fewer strategic weapons, such as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the South Korean military said earlier.

In March, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told a visiting South Korean delegation in Pyongyang that he "understands" the situation regarding the joint drills, according to South Korea's National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong, who had led the delegation.

The two Koreas also set a date for a summit between their leaders on April 27, the first such meeting between the rival nations in more than a decade.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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