US, South Korea kick off joint military exercises after hiatus

US-S.Korea joint drills begin

South Korea and the United States kicked off their annual Foal Eagle joint military exercise on Sunday.

The annual Foal Eagle drill - a series of field training exercises involving some 11,500 American and 290,000 South Korean troops - began early Sunday, Seoul's defense ministry spokesman said.

The two allies will also carry out the two-weeks Key Resolve maneuvers, an exercise including computer-based simulations from April 23 with the participation of 12,200 USA soldiers.

The two-month long Foal Eagle exercise has been reduced to a four-week run with no major US strategic assets such as supercarriers or nuclear submarines expected to be deployed to the peninsula, Yonhap reported.

As opposed to the past when Seoul deliberately publicized the US strategic assets approaching the peninsula for the exercises, local military sources said the Defense Ministry will try to keep the exercises low-key this year in order to not provoke North Korea, which has promised to halt all missile and nuclear testing during the period of talks.

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.

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The drills usually begin in February or March, but were delayed for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

South Korean and U.S. Marines hold a joint landing exercise in this file photo.

The duration of the operation, dubbed Foal Eagle, was shortened to a month, according to the report, due to the presence of the Olympics last month. But its leader Kim Jong Un reportedly softened his tone when he met South Korean envoys in March.

The US and South Korea yesterday started a low-key joint military drill as a diplomatic thaw over North Korea gathered pace.

South Korean President Moon Jae In is scheduled to meet Kim in a rare summit on April 27 in the Peace House on the southern side of the border village of Panmunjom.

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