US, South Korea Kick Off Annual Joint Military Drills

US-S.Korea joint drills begin

The allies will also kick off a two-week Key Resolve command-post war game April 23, in which as many as 12,200 USA troops will be mobilized.

Subsequently, Kim is expected to meet U.S. President Donald Trump for the first-ever summit between the two countries, though the date and venue have yet to be determined.

The start of the drills, which usually commence between the end of February and the beginning of March, was postponed due to the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, an event which started a detente with Pyongyang and the announcement of the two summits.

The exercise has also been shortened from two months to one, it said.

South Korean and U.S. Marines hold a joint landing exercise in this file photo.

A number of South Korean protesters held up signs denouncing the military exercises on Sunday. They all landed harmlessly in the Sea of Japan.

International Olympic Committee president meets with North Korea's Kim Jong Un
He also met the figure skating pair, Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik, who had competed in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

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The North sees the drills as a rehearsal for an invasion.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has long viewed the annual military exercises as a provocation.

The flurry of reconciliatory moves comes after the Pyeongchang Winter Games, which the North used to mount a charm offensive, sending athletes, cheerleaders and even leader Kim Jong Un's powerful sister as a delegate.

Both sides have toned down the rhetoric, and Kim told Chinese President Xi Jinping during a surprise visit to Beijing last week that he is committed to denuclearization, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Washington and Seoul jointly announced late last month that the combined exercises will be held on a scale similar to those of previous years, and that the United Nations Command informed North Korea about the schedule as well as the "defensive nature" of the exercises at the truce village of Panmunjom, which straddles the border. -North Korean summit. But the president said he will maintain his "maximum pressure" campaign seeking to isolate the regime until an agreement is reached.

About 28,500 US service members are based in South Korea, which technically remains at war with the North after their 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.

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