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S.Korea, US start annual military drills

S.Korea, US start annual military drills

Seoul's defense ministry said the springtime Foal Eagle kicked off with 11,500 USA troops and 300,000 South Korean soldiers taking part in the field training exercise, one of the largest military drills conducted annually in the world, SBS reported.

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.

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.

As many as 12,200 USA troops are expected to be mobilized in late April for further drills in South Korea.

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This year, however, they waited until the end of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games here.

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.

Seoul and Washington have stressed that the number of deployed troops and the intensity of the maneuvers are similar to earlier years and announced that naval forces of both countries will carry out the amphibious landing exercise Ssangyong (Double Dragon) on April 8.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in reportedly requested the military rescheduling prior to the event.

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The drill - which was delayed to avoid clashing with February's Winter Olympics in the South - will be held for a month in April, about have the time it usually lasts.

Tension on the flashpoint peninsula have showed signs of easing in recent months after the isolated, nuclear-armed North proposed summits with the South and their "imperialist enemy" the US.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in March told a visiting South Korean delegation that he "understands" the situation, South Korean officials said.

The detente followed months of heightened tensions as Trump traded threats and personal insults with Kim, calling him "little rocket man" and threatening to unleash "fire and fury" and to "totally destroy North Korea" if needed to defend the United States and its allies.

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Pyongyang and Seoul are also scheduled on April 27 to hold a summit, their first in more than a decade.