US-S.Korea military drills to begin after Winter Olympics

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Seoul, Feb 20 (IANS) The South Korean Defence Ministry on Tuesday said that it will carry out its annual military drills with the US once the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

This is the first time that Seoul has spoken about the drills following the historic visit of a North Korean delegation headed by Kim Yo-jong, sister of Kim Jong-un, representing the greatest rapprochement in years between the two Koreas as part of the Winter Games, reports Efe news.

The US and South Korea had postponed the joint drills Foal Eagle and Key Resolve – normally carried out between late February and the beginning of March and which North Korea views as a rehearsal for invading its territory – to avoid coinciding with the Olympic and Paralympic Games happening in PyeongChang county until March 18.

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In its report Tuesday the Defence ministry ruled out that possibility but neither did it specify dates for the drill nor did it make any explicit reference to Foal Eagle, which unlike Key Resolve – a set of war games based on computer simulations – involves a massive deployment of military assets on the ground.

A ministry spokesperson told Efe news that the dates will be made public in the coming days.

General Vincent Brooks, who heads the US contingent of 28,000 troops on South Korean soil, assured a US parliamentary committee last week that both countries will carry out once a year their on-the-ground training, regardless of the inter-Korean rapprochement.

Seoul is convinced that improving relations with Pyongyang can help the regime return to the negotiating table with Washington, which has shown more scepticism and insisted that North Korea must commit to denuclearisation.

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–IANS

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