S. Korea, US begin joint military drills

Seoul - South Korea and the US on Monday began joint military military drills despite strong opposition from North Korea, which has conducted three missile tests in the past two weeks.

The two allies conducted their usual maneuvers in a new format after deciding to scale them down as agreed in inter-Korean summits and the meetings between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump with a view to reducing tensions and fostering dialogue, Efe news reported.

The new Dong Maeng exercises, which replace the earlier Key Resolve and Foal Eagle maneuvers, will take place over a period of about two weeks and include a drill on how to handle a military emergency on the Korean peninsula, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff announced on Sunday evening.

Despite a smaller deployment of troops than in previous years, the exercises have provoked strong protests from Pyongyang, which claimed through official media that the maneuvers would be a "clear violation of the spirit" of what was agreed at the spontaneous summit between Trump and Kim on June 30.

Over the last two weeks, Pyongyang has conducted three tests of short-range ballistic missiles, calling them "a solemn warning" to Seoul over its planned maneuvers with Washington and a way to perfect a "large-caliber multiple-launch guided rocket system".

This series of weapons tests took place amid attempts by Pyongyang and Washington to revive negotiations on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, another point Kim and Trump committed to in their bilateral summit at the inter-Korean border in June.

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Source: IANS