US, South Korea plan massive military exercise: Pentagon
KONFRONTASI - The US says it will hold a joint military exercise with South Korea hours after President Donald Trump hailed as “very positive” North Korea's offer of talks.
The Foal Eagle exercise described by the US military as defensive in nature could begin as early as the end of this month, according to three US defense officials.
The yearly drill with Seoul involves thousands of US troops conducting ground, air, naval, and special operations field exercises.
The exercises are usually conducted in March and April, but South Korean President Moon Jae-In told NBC News in December that his country was asking the US to put off the exercises until after the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in PyeongChang which end March 18.
South Korean marines participate in a joint military exercise with US troops on April 2, 2017 in Pohang, South Korea. (Photo by Getty Images)
"Additional information will be released after the Paralympics," Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Chris Logan said.
In January, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the US would "deconflict" with the Olympics "for logistics reasons."
"There's enough traffic on the roads, enough people trying to get around the country to the various locations not to run truck convoys and military exercises and shut down roads," Mattis said, calling the delay in the exercises "not that unusual."
North Korea has repeatedly censured the US and South Korea for holding military exercises and described the large-scale mobilization of troops as provocative.
This comes after Seoul announced the two Koreas would hold a summit in the Demilitarized Zone in April and that the North's leader Kim Jong-un was willing to stop provocative missile and nuclear tests.
On Tuesday, Trump welcomed Pyongyang’s offer as positive, saying the standoff over Pyongyang's weapons drive would not be allowed to "fester."
US President Donald Trump
"We have come a long way at least rhetorically with North Korea," Trump said. "We are going to do something, one way or the other, we are going to do something and not let that situation fester."
He also said that the offer appeared to be "sincere," adding, "We'll soon find out."
Tensions have been high between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.
Washington claims it prefers a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but it has repeatedly threatened Pyongyang with military action.[ptv]