S Korea-US drill cut short by a month: Seoul defence ministry

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"The Foal Eagle exercises will be held for a month in April due to a delay caused by the Olympics and as each military has its own schedule", the spokesman said.

North Korea often views military exercises between the US and South Korea as a provocation aimed at the North and has used such military maneuvers to justify its nuclear and missile programs.

The drills are a major point of contention on the Korean peninsula, as North Korea sees them as preparation for invasion.

In a statement on the joint exercises, the Pentagon said defence secretary Jim Mattis and his South Korean counterpart, Song Young-moo, agreed to go forward with the two sets of exercises "at a scale similar to" that of previous years. She did not specify how long the teachings would continue and how many soldiers would participate in them.

Against this backdrop, rumors were spreading that this year, the joint exercises of South Korea and the United States would be limited so as not to break the diplomatic process with the North.

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Despite his criticisms of previous drills, Kim reportedly told a South Korean envoy in March that he "understands" the need for Seoul and Washington to conduct the exercises.

The announcement comes as an unprecedented diplomatic effort is under way to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula. Earlier this month a high-level delegation from South Korea visited Pyongyang, and both sides plan to meet at a joint summit in April.

The US and South Korea usually begin Foal Eagle and Key Resolve in March.

Additionally, the shorter timeframe indicates that the drills might be over by the time US President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea also said it was "committed" to giving up its nuclear weapons. The exercises have involved up to 17,000 U.S. troops and more than 300,000 South Korean troops in previous years.

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