US, S. Korea joint military drills begin amid tension

South Korea and the United States have started their annual joint military drills, amid continuing tensions on the peninsula. The 11-day joint maneuvers, code named “Key Resolve and Foal Eagle” will see nearly 215 thousand troops taking part.

South Korea said Key Resolve, which mainly involves computer simulations, will last until the 10th March, while Foal Eagle, a combined drill which includes joint air, ground and naval training exercises, will run through until the end of April.

Both maneuvers will see a large number of military personnel from both sides taking part.

Kim Min-Seok, Spokesperson of South Korean Defence Ministry, said, “Five hundred overseas forces and 2300 US soldiers are participating in the Key Resolve exercise. About 10-thousand US soldiers are also expected to participate in th Foal Eagle exercise. The two sides will also participate in outdoor maneuvers.”

According to the Combined Forces Command, the exercises focus on raising the allies’ ability to defend against small, sudden attacks by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

And a U.S. aircraft carrier would also join one of the two exercises, but U.S. military officials neither confirmed nor denied the information.

The Combined Forces Command also stressed the drills are defensive in nature and aimed at strengthening the allies’ readiness against all potential threats.

Chun Hae-Sun, Spokesman of South Korea Unification Ministry, said, “The South Korea-US joint military exercises is an annual defensive drill. Denouncing these kinds of drills as an aggression and provocation will not be a help to ease the tension on the Korean Peninsula.”

Despite Seoul’s emphasis of the drills’ defensive nature, on Monday, about 20 South Korean peace activists gathered in Seoul to denounce the joint military drills, arguing dialogue and negotiation are the best way to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Yoo Young-Jae, South Korean Peace Activist, said, “These exercises are very aggressive. We strongly insist South Korea and the US stop these kind of war exercises and instead hold dialogue with the DPRK. ”

In a statement issued prior to the exercise, the U.S. military maintained that drills were defense-oriented and were “planned months in advance and they are not connected to any current world events”.

– CCTV NEWS

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