US, S Korea begin low-key exercises


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

A South Korean military official said that as previously announced, South Korean and USA troops will begin their joint exercise on Sunday with a massive double dragon amphibious landing drill.

The Key Resolve drill, a computer-simulated war game, is planned to be held for two weeks from April 23, a similar length to past year when it ran from March 13 to 24.

Roughly 300,000 South Korean soldiers were participating in the four-week Foal Eagle training alongside more than 11,500 United States troops, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

A Pentagon spokesman said the drills will feature about 23,700 US troops and 300,000 South Korean forces.

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.

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.

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The duration of the operation, dubbed Foal Eagle, was shortened to a month, according to the report, due to the presence of the Olympics last month.

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

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

The decision to cut short the exercises seems to be aimed at maintaining the current climate warming relations with North Korea, which views the drills as a rehearsal for invading its territory, and amid plans for two historic summits between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the presidents of South Korea on April 27 and the USA in May.

Eleven South Korean acts are set perform in the North Korean capital - the first such concert for more than a decade.

The North Korean leader is set to hold a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27 at the border truce village of Panmunjom - the third time ever that any leaders of the two rivals have met.