Published: Mon, April 02, 2018
Medical | By Mark Scott

US, SKorea kick off military exercises

US, SKorea kick off military exercises

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

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.

Around 11,500 United States troops and some 300,000 South Korean soldiers are set to participate in the first of the two drills, Foal Eagle, which will continue for four weeks, one month less than its normal duration, reports Efe news.

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

The unprecedented meeting between a member of the Kim family and a sitting US president was agreed to on the spot by President Trump earlier this month, shocking many in Washington and around the world.

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.

Tension on the flashpoint peninsula has shown signs of easing after the nuclear-armed North proposed summits with the South and their "imperialist enemy" the US.

The allies will also kick off a two-week Key Resolve command-post war game April 23, in which as many as 12,200 US troops will be mobilized. The North has fiercely objected to the drills in the past, calling them a rehearsal for an invasion.

The detente followed months of heightened tensions as Trump traded threats and personal insults with Kim, calling him "little rocket man" and threatening to unleash "fire and fury" and to "totally destroy North Korea" if needed to defend the United States and its allies.

South Korean defense ministry officials say the scale of the drills is the same as usual.

Pyongyang and Seoul are also scheduled on April 27 to hold a summit, their first in more than a decade.

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