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South Korea and U.S. to resume military exercises after Paralympics

South Korea and U.S. to resume military exercises after Paralympics

A DATE for the start of delayed US and South Korean military drills will be announced soon after the Paralympics end next month, Seoul's Defence Minister said today.

The longtime allies had agreed to postpone the annual exercises until after the Winter Games in a bid to ease rising tensions with the nuclear-armed North, which considers them a rehearsal for an invasion.

The United States' top military official in South Korea has affirmed the two allied countries will continue conducting joint military exercises.

Analysts say the Games-driven bonhomie on the peninsula may not last long once the sporting festivals are over, particularly once Key Resolve, a command post drill, and the Foal Eagle theatre-level field exercise begin.

Pyongyang is quickly dropping its reconciliation rhetoric spurred by the ongoing Olympic games, once again threatening Washington from resuming joint military drills with South Korea at the conclusion of the games.

USKF Commander General Vincent Brooks last Wednesday pledged to conduct the joint military drills in a report submitted to U.S.'s House Committee on Armed Services.

The South Korean and US militaries usually hold military exercises called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle in March and April, which can involve as many as 17,000 USA troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans.

The start date will be announced by the two allies between the end of the Paralympics on March 18 and the beginning of April, Seoul's defense minister Song Young-moo was quoted as telling the National Assembly by a ministry spokesman.

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Song said the South and the USA postponed the exercises in accordance with the Olympic spirit.

Pyongyang, which has been slapped with a series of tough United Nations and unilateral sanctions, has seen its ties with Seoul thaw amid a "charm offensive" that saw North Korean leader Kim Jong Un dispatch his younger sister to the games to deliver an offer to host a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

After a high-level delegation from the North attended the opening ceremony, Mr Kim invited Moon Jae-in, South Korea's leader, to Pyongyang for what would be the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade.

Both the South and North appear to be tip-toeing around these issues during the period of the Pyeongchang Olympics, he said.

The North has conducted a spate of test launches over the past year, including that of a long-range missile experts believe is capable of striking most of the U.S. It also unleashed its most powerful nuclear blast to date in September, in what it claimed was a test of a thermonuclear weapon.

The peninsula teetered on the edge of conflict past year as Donald Trump, US president, faced off with Kim Jong-un, North Korea's supreme leader, over the regime's testing of long-range ballistic missiles.

However valuable the improvement in North-South ties and the peaceful environment may be, it said, "it is the principled stand and unshakable will of the army and people of the DPRK to counter provocation by prompt counterstrike".

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