Regular Military Drills Between S Korea, US to Have Shorter Timeline

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The image is of 2015 joint U.S- Korea exercise.

Joint military exercises involving the United States and South Korea will resume April 1 on a "similar" scale to previous years, the US Department of Defense announced on Monday.

They will stage the first performances by South Korean acts in the North since 2007.

Flames rise as South Korean army's armored vehicles wait during South Korea-U.S. joint military live-fire drills at Seungjin Fire Training Field in Pocheon, South Korea, near the border with North Korea, on April 26, 2017.

They were due to begin in March but were postponed amid the diplomatic thaw surrounding the Winter Olympics. North Korea considers the exercises an invasion rehearsal and often conducts weapons tests in protest.

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Earlier this month US President Donald Trump unexpectedly accepted an invitation from North Korea's Kim Jong-un for face-to-face talks.

North Korea is pursuing nuclear and missile programs in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are to meet separately in late April.

Officials will visit North Korea from 22 to 24 March to inspect the sites and ensure they can accommodate the singers, the ministry said.

South Korea's Defense Ministry released a near-identical statement. Among key assets that joined were the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, the USS Columbus nuclear-powered attack submarine and a B-1B strategic bomber. The United States sent such assets during past drills when tensions ran high.

Both countries said in a statement that the the "Foal Eagle and Key Resolve" drills would restart and last for four weeks.

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"These are low-key drills".

Still, the timing and size of the exercises is likely to be especially sensitive.

Those announcements were made by the South Koreans, who have been orchestrating the diplomatic preparations and acting as the messenger between Washington and Pyongyang.

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"One U.S. delegation member contacted me last fall and suggested a tripartite meeting", Kim told YLE, adding that Helsinki was picked as the location after the North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho chose to visit Stockholm in neighbouring Sweden for several days of diplomatic talks.

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