US, South Korea Kick Off Annual Joint Military Drills

The two joint drills would involve about 23,700 US troops and 300,000 South Korean forces

The two joint drills would involve about 23,700 US troops and 300,000 South Korean forces

South Korean and the United States began their delayed joint military training on Sunday, mobilizing more than 300,000 troops.

The Foal Eagle field exercise, which usually involves combined ground, air, naval, and special operations troops, will continue for a month.

A two-week, computer-simulated exercise known as Key Resolve is due to start on April 23 with some 12,200 Americans and 10,000 South Korean military personnel.

The Foal Eagle drill started the same day as a historic concert by South Korean pop stars in Pyongyang, which will be staged late Sunday as a peace gesture ahead of inter-Korea summit in March.

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.

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

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The news was also said to have been relayed by the South Korean military through a recently restored military hotline connecting the two countries along the west coast.

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.

But military officials say the period of the drills will be halved to about one month, and there are now no plans to include United States aircraft carriers or bombers.

Tension around Korean peninsula has reportedly shown signs of easing in recent weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has confirmed commitment to the inter-Korean talks and summits with USA and Japan.

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.

Kim, who last week met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on his first overseas trip as leader, also met Olympics chief Thomas Bach in Pyongyang on Saturday, thanking him for helping to bring about a "dramatic thawing" of tensions on the peninsula.

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