South Korea, US conclude joint military drills

Seoul, April 30 (IANS) South Korea and the US on Saturday concluded their biggest joint military drills on the Korean peninsula.

Saturday was devoted to dismantling military camps and equipment, a South Korean defence ministry official said.

On March 7, the two allies had begun the military exercises, the magnitude of which was intended as a response to Pyongyang’s January 6 atomic test, and to its February 7 launch of a space rocket, believed to be a veiled missile test, EFE news reported.

Three hundred thousand soldiers from South Korea and 17,000 from the US took part in the exercises, named Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, which also included deployment of the nuclear-propelled aircraft carrier John C. Stennis besides two amphibious assault ships by the US.

“The exercises focused on the process of deploying reinforcements from the US in the event of an emergency and intensifying South Korean troops’ mission operability with their American partners,” according to the defence ministry.

Meanwhile, North Korean official news agency KCNA renewed its condemnation of the exercises, terming them the worst military provocation ever in the history of the peninsula.

Despite the end of the maneuvers, tensions in the region remain high especially as North Korea is set to hold its first Workers’ Party Congress in 36 years, beginning May 6.



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