US-South Korean military exercises to begin April 1


PV International Desk : At a potentially pivotal moment of diplomacy with North Korea, the Pentagon said Monday that annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises that had been postponed for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will begin April 1.

In a brief statement, the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his South Korean counterpart, Song Young-moo, agreed to go forward with the maneuvers, known as Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, “at a scale similar to” that of previous years.

North Korea has been notified of the schedule “as well as the defensive nature” of the exercises, the Pentagon said.

The timing and size of the annual maneuvers are especially sensitive this year because of heightened tension over the North’s accelerated work last year on a nuclear-armed missile potentially capable of reaching the United States – followed, unexpectedly, by prospects for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis.

North Korea typically objects to U.S.-South Korean military exercises, calling them dress rehearsals for an invasion. Washington and Seoul insist they are defensive and are needed to keep allied forces combat-ready.

After recent high-level talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, South Korean officials said Kim indicated his acceptance of the maneuvers. Kim also offered to meet personally with President Donald Trump to discuss giving up his nuclear weapons on unspecified terms, and Trump quickly agreed. The time and place of the unprecedented talks have not been set, but the White House indicated the summit would happen by May.