Seoul, Mar 20 A delayed joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States will be cut short by a month, a Seoul defence ministry spokesman said today, as the diplomatic thaw with North Korea intensifies.
"The scaled-back drills will be a strategic misjudgment that will result in a crack in the South Korea-U.S. alliance and cooperation with our partner countries in the world and send the wrong signal to Kim Jong-un", he added.
"The Foal Eagle exercises will be held for a month in April due to a delay caused by the Olympics and as each military has its own schedule", the spokesman told AFP.
How will North Korea's dictator regard these two exercises in the framework of the summit foreseen for next month to pave the way to the Kim-Trump summit, which remains to be confirmed?
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The United Nations Command of U.S. informed the military of North Korea about the schedule of the drills while saying that it was a part of regular training and not defensive in nature.
But the joint US-South Korea drills often infuriate North Korea, which often conducts weapons tests in protest. No details were given on specifics such as whether US strategic assets would be deployed.
Seoul's defense ministry announced the plan to begin the allies' Foal Eagle/Key Resolve drills in Korea, which were delayed during an Olympic detente, on April 1 at a scale "similar" to that of previous years. They come as Moon prepares for a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month, while U.S. President Donald Trump prepares for a potential meeting with Kim the following month. Against this backdrop, rumors were spreading that this year, the joint exercises of South Korea and the United States would be limited so as not to break the diplomatic process with the North. In light of the agreement for talks, the country said it recognized the need for them as part of South Korea's defense.