South Korea, US move on with holding postponed drill

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20 February, 2018

Those talks eventually led to North Korea's participation in the Winter Olympics, in Pyeongchang, South Korea - a move widely seen as a diplomatic breakthrough.

The annual exercises, regularly denounced by the North as war preparations, have already been delayed until after the March 18 closing of the Winter Paralympics.

The report, however, did not mention the Foal Eagle drills, which are a series of joint and combined ground, air, naval and special operations field exercises, or the exact schedule for the Key Resolve and Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, according to Yonhap.

Through its official media arm, KCNA, the North described the upcoming drill as an "act of ruthlessly trampling even a small sprout of peace that has been now seen on the Korean peninsula".

Defense Minister Song Young-moo dismissed that idea on Tuesday, telling a parliamentary defense committee that the allies would announce the start date for the drills by the end of March, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

A US Forces Korea spokesman confirmed the position to Agence France-Presse.

Since the decision to delay the drill, North Korea agreed to hold the first official talks with South Korea in more than two years, amid a standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.

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"The U.S. and (South Korea) agreed to deconflict the timing of the spring exercises in order to provide the best possible conditions for a successful Olympics and Paralympics", the public affairs office said in a statement.

"The exercise was postponed according to the spirit of the Olympics", said Song.

With the start date for the large-scale exercises yet to be confirmed, Seoul's Defense Ministry reported to lawmakers Tuesday that South Korea and the USA will conduct their spring Key Resolve manoeuvres to defend against the North's missile threat, according to Yonhap News Agency.

However, it remains to be seen whether Moon will accept the proposal as he stressed last weekend the North should also engage in dialogue with the USA - a prospect that could become less likely when allied military drills resume.

However valuable the improvement in North-South ties and the peaceful environment may be, it said, "it is the principled stand and unshakable will of the army and people of the DPRK to counter provocation by prompt counterstrike".

South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo speaks as he visits a spot where a North Korean has defected crossing the border on November 27, 2017 in Panmunjom, South Korea.

North Korea has won positive press for their Olympic diplomatic maneuvers.


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