U.S. and South Korean troops began a reduced joint military exercise replacing the countries’ major springtime war games.
In order to aid the push for a diplomatic resolution with North Korea, a U.S. Defence Department spokesman Acting U.S. Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan said on Monday in Seoul.
Joint “Dong Maeng’’ exercises will be held until March 12, Seoul’s joint Chiefs of Staff and the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) said in a statement.
“Dong Maeng’ which means ‘Alliance’ in English, has been modified from the previously held spring exercises Key Resolve and Foal Eagle and will focus on strategic, operational and tactical aspects of general military operations on the Korean Peninsula,’’ the statement said.
“These exercises are crucial in sustaining and strengthening the alliance,’’ Seoul’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Park Han Ki and CFC Commander General Robert B Abrams said.
Seoul’s Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong Doo and Shanahan agreed on Saturday that the “Key Resolve’’ and “Foal Eagle’’ exercises would no longer take place.
The Pentagon said the decision reflected a joint “desire to reduce tension and support our diplomatic efforts to achieve complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in a final, fully verified manner.’’
U.S. President Donald Trump has criticised the exercises, describing them as “very expensive’’ and “provocative’’ to North Korea, while Pyongyang has slammed the manoeuvres as being part of plans to invade it.
The latest announcement comes after Trump left empty-handed from his highly-anticipated summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam. (NAN)