15:42 GMT +319 June 2019
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    U.S. Army soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team and South Korean soldiers take their position during a demonstration of the combined arms live-fire exercise as a part of the annual joint military exercise Foal Eagle between South Korea and the United States at the Rodriquez Multi-Purpose Range Complex in Pocheon, north of Seoul, South Korea. (File)

    US, S Korea Begin Joint Drills After a Month Delay, Still Threaten Diplomacy

    © AP Photo / Lee Jin-man
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    This year’s annual military exercise will be different from previous ones as they are expected to last half their usual duration and will not include US supercarriers and submarines. Although North Korea previously warned against conducting the drills, no official condemnation has been announced so far.

    Some 300,000 South Korean servicemen and 11,500 US soldiers are slated to take part in this year's annual Foal Eagle joint military exercises, which started on April 1. The drills, which kicked off one month later than usual, due to the emerging thaw in relations between the two Koreas and their joint performance during the latest Winter Olympics, will last half of its usual time — four weeks instead of the regular eight.

    READ MORE: Japanese FM Says North Korea Preparing for Another Nuclear Test

    This time no US nuclear-powered carriers or submarines will participate in the joint training. A reduced US military presence as well as duration of the exercises could allegedly signal a willingness to ease tensions with North Korea (DPRK) in the face of upcoming negotiations between the North and the South at the end of April and between the Pyongyang and Washington in May.

    READ MORE: Will North Korea Agree to Drop Its Nuclear Program? Expert Explains

    Pyongyang regularly condemns the joint drills of South Korea and the US, claiming them to be a "rehearsal" of invasion or attack on the North. This year was no exception. North Korea's official KCNA news agency earlier announced that the DPRK would "counter the US with its own mode of counteraction" and shifted the responsibility for any possible consequences on Washington. At present Pyongyang has yet to officially react to the news of the drills' start.


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    military drills, United States, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), South Korea, Korean Peninsula
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